Madison Prep missed its mark offensively in the first quarter. A 21-9 second-quarter run gave the Chargers the jump start they needed to notch a 58-35 victory over Welsh to open the Class 2A girls basketball playoffs Thursday night.
“It was a very frustrating and slow start,” Madison Prep coach Dwayne Hayes said. “We had a bad night shooting the ball. We played with (Welsh) for a while. The second quarter was the turnaround. We finally got in a zone where we could score some points.”
Western Kentucky signee Sherry Porter scored a game-high 19 points for the sixth-seeded Chargers (22-5). Porter made three 3-pointers. Kennedi Green added 14 and Dezmanique Gaines had 11points and 10 rebounds for the winners, who limited No. 27 Welsh (9-20) to 10 points or less in all but one quarter of the game played at MPA.
“Since this was the first playoff game, I think we were a little nervous,” Porter said. “I know I was, but after a while we settled down. I got in a rhythm and did the things I knew I could do.”
The first quarter was a brutal one for the Chargers. They made just 2 of 19 shots from the field. MPA led 7-0 thanks to a 3-pointer and two free throws by Porter. Welsh remained close despite seven first-quarter turnovers.
The Greyhounds scored nine of the final 11 points in the opening quarter. Abie Hebert’s jumper in the lane with three seconds left tied it at 9. Amiya Dartest led the Greyhounds with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Hebert had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Hebert scored again from the baseline 17 seconds into the second quarter to give her team an 11-9 lead. It would be the the Greyhounds' lone lead. Slowly but surely, Madison Prep started to figure things out, scoring points with its defense.
“I’m extremely proud of the effort,” Welsh coach Denver Brown said. “This is our first time in the playoffs in three years, and it was an important step. But (Porter) is a great player, and they go as she goes. We frustrated her a little early, and then she broke out of it.”
Eventually, the Chargers' fullcourt pressure defense started to pay off. MPA used its defense to force nine second-quarter turnovers. A 3-pointer by Green staked Madison Prep to a 14-11 lead with 4:28 left in first half. Madison Prep turned four straight turnovers by Welsh into baskets.
By the time Makayla Marshall sank a 3-pointer with 1:13 left it was 25-14. Porters and Gaines each added a basket in the final minute to push the MPA lead to 30-14.
The third quarter brought more of the same. Madison Prep extended its lead even more by outscoring the Greyhounds 19-7, making it 49-21.
MPA’s Hayes nodded his head after the game and said, “We’ve still got some work to do in the gym.”