By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ELWOOD — In the second girls’ Madison County semifinal from Elwood Monday night, the Elwood Lady Panthers matched up with the Lapel Lady Bulldogs in a game in which both teams came in on a four-game winning streak.
However, Lapel had not played in 16 days and the rust showed as Elwood used a 14-2 scoring advantage in the second quarter to break open a close game and punch their ticket to the finals 61-51.
Due to drawing a bye in the first round of the county tourney since Anderson Prep Academy does not have a girls’ team and with Mother Nature affecting the tourney schedule, Lapel’s last game was on Dec. 28.
Meanwhile, Elwood defeated Frankton Friday night in the opening round to advance to the semis. The game started out as a see-saw affair with the lead changing hands 11 times in the first quarter, which Elwood led 18-16.
The second quarter showed the rust in Lapel’s game. The Lady Bulldogs hit just one field goal in 16 attempts in the quarter and trailed 32-18 at the half.
“We were very nonchalant to start the game and I was worried about it,” Lapel coach Kevin Brattain said. “We hadn’t played in three weeks, (but) we’re not making excuses, they (Elwood) beat us.”
Lapel spent the third quarter trying to come back and got the lead down to five heading into the fourth and would have first possession.
But a turnover and a 3pointer by Katelyn Leisure gave Elwood a 45-37 lead and Lapel would never threaten again.
“To be honest, I thought that’s the team I expected to see this season,” Elwood coach Mickey Hosier said. “We’ve seen it in spurts, but basically for 26-28 minutes, it was focus and energy.” Elwood eased the lead back out to 56-39 on a basket by Tenasha Stephens with three minutes left before Lapel went on a run to cut the final deficit to 10.
Elwood, who put three players in double figures, moves on to play Anderson in the final tonight at Elwood. “I tried to explain to the girls in the locker room it is an old county school versus a city school,” Hosier said. “It’s a banner on the wall type game. Win or lose you have a chance to play for a championship. I’m excited to see how we come out and respond.”
The Lady Panthers (9-4) were led by Leisure’s 18 points, Stephens finished with 14 while Jesse Noone had 11 and Kelsey Hughes had 9. Lapel, who struggled to an 18-63 night from the field, was led by Kirsten Rich’s 11 and MacKenzie Boles’ 10. “We shot horribly from the field and horribly from the free throw line (10-19),” said Brattain. “We just didn’t play well, but that’s going to happen.”
Lapel will face Alexandria at 6 p.m. in the third place game tonight, Elwood and Anderson will follow at approximately 7:30. Lapel and Elwood will face each other again on Feb. 6 at Elwood.