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Second-half struggles costly for Central in loss

WOODSTOCK — Central’s performance on Saturday was like a microcosm of its season — up and down.

The Falcons had a strong first half, but a poor second half leading to a 53-45 Conference 35 girls basketball loss to Clarke County.

“The kids done some great things,” Clarke County girls basketball coach Regina Downing said. “They battled, they fought down the stretch, and I was just proud of them.”

Central played a solid first half led by Tamra Scott. The senior scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the opening half.

Scott scored 11 points in the first period as the Falcons held a 14-9 edge.

The Falcons had as much as a 12-point lead in the second period and led 31-22 at the half.

“The first half I couldn’t ask for them to play any better,” Central girls basketball coach Bryan Scott said. That was probably the best 16 minutes of basketball that we’ve played on both ends of the floor.”

Downing said she made some adjustments at halftime. They began to double team Tamra Scott whenever she touched the ball, which helped slow her down.

Clarke County’s full-court pressure also began to affect Central. The Falcons turned the ball over 21 times in the second half.

“We came out and we reverted back to our old ways, panicking, throwing the ball away,” Bryan Scott said.

Central had 12 turnovers in the third period as the Eagles slowly clawed their way back into the game.

The Falcons also had three starters (Tamra Scott, Maria Marston and Ayanna Strother) in foul trouble and sitting on the bench for part of the period. On top of that, Central’s Tycara Scott and Kendall Herbaugh suffered injuries during the game.

“Tycara getting hurt with her injury kind of threw my rotation off a little bit,” Bryan Scott said. “Kendall (Herbaugh), that’s a big spark plug by far my best defensive player. So when she goes down it kind of got helter skelter and I tried to use some different combinations.”

The Falcons led 38-24 with 4:56 left in the third period, but didn’t make another basket for another 8:09 of play.

Clarke County went on a 20-0 run to take a 44-38 lead with 4:19 left in the game.

“At halftime we had to make some adjustments on what we needed to do on the defensive end, and we tried to attack them on the offensive end,” Downing said.

The Falcons made one last rally. Central used a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 46-45 with 2:23 left. Central’s Madison Nichols had 4 points during the run.

Downing called a timeout, and Clarke County’s Jade Payton was left wide open for an easy basket on the ensuing inbounds pass.

“That kind of tells you how our second half went,” Bryan Scott said of the Payton basket. “It’s frustrating as a coach, especially when you come out of a timeout and you draw something up and tell your players this is what they’re going to do, play this defense. And we don’t do it.”

The Falcons turned the ball over three more times in the final two minutes, and the Eagles made five free throws to seal the win.

Payton led the Eagles with 18 points, while Megan Hicks added 11.

“This is a big win for us,” Downing said. “We just now got our whole team back. We had some kids out for about 6 weeks with concussions. We’re just now trying to get together, start playing together with one another.”

Tamra Scott had nine rebounds, while Madison Nichols had 10 points for the Falcons.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com