Great Crossing entered Saturday afternoon with two perceptions: That other rivals in the 11th Region thought Madison Southern was better, and that the Eagles were itching for the opportunity to prove it.
“They had us ranked right below them in the region,” GC senior point guard Braylee McMath said of the KHSAA RPI index. “(Southern) kept wanting to play us. They were always trying to schedule a game.”
It was a case of be careful for what you wish. McMath wound up with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the host Lady Warhawks' 83-44 rout..
Timothi Williams, McMath and Ava Schureman each knocked down a 3-pointer before Madison Southern scored. That opening run stretched to 19-1, and the margin never went back below a dozen.
“We had a little chip on our shoulders,” GC coach Glenn Wilson said. “We looked at the rankings and all that stuff and saw a team that was ahead of us. I was glad we responded. We played the way we're capable. We stuck to our game plan, shot the ball well, played good defense.”
Williams led Great Crossing (8-2) with 22 points. Rachel Smith added 18 points and five assists.
GC's three-headed backcourt was a combined 10-for-19 from 3-point range.
“When you've got both wings shooting the ball well, your point guard shooting the ball well, and you can score inside, that's a coach's dream right there,” Wilson said. “When all five starters are scoring, that's when we're doing a pretty good job. We met the challenge. We came ready to play. We looked good. We looked really good.”
Reece Estep scored 10 points to lead Madison Southern (11-3), which had only three field goals in the first half and finished 12-for-49 (24.5 percent) overall.
Only a wide disparity at the free-throw line – the Eagles were 16-for-23, while the Warhawks made 2-of-4 – kept it from getting completely out of hand.
“We've been working a lot on that in practice,” McMath said of the defensive intensity. “We're always going at it with one another. I guess that just transferred into the game today.”
Great Crossing held 2,000-point scorer Samantha Cornelison to eight.
Raegan Barrett (eight points, four rebounds, three steals) and Ava Schureman (five points, six rebounds, two steals) set the physical tone against Cornelison and Estep, who combined to miss 16 of their 21 shots.
“I thought we matched up pretty well with them. Raegan and Ava did a good job with the big girls inside,” Wilson said. “We made them have to score over us. We just played good, solid defense and made them adjust to us. They scored 10 of their 17 (first-half) points at the line. We just played good, solid defense. That's what we've been working on.”
Sometimes prone to lulls that allow vanquished opponents to hang around, GC mostly avoided that tendency against Madison Southern.
Cornelison's rare four-point play was the only sign of life in a 21-9 first quarter, and Williams scored the first eight Warhawk points to get her team back on track in the second.
McMath and Smith twice nailed threes in succession to fuel the third period, when GC stretched its 36-17 halftime advantage to 58-36.
“I thought Rachel was going for 50 tonight,” McMath said. “I was like, keep getting her the ball. Every time I passed it to her, I knew it was going in.”
Smith scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half.
The one-sided win solidified GC's status as a clear top-three team in the region along with Franklin County and Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Warhawks have a chance to further embellish that claim when they host Berea on Monday.
“We played so consistent,” McMath said. “That was an exciting, fun game to play in. If we can keep this thing rolling, we can do some damage.”