BY CHRIS STONER
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Ugly wins count just as much as pretty ones and when you haven’t won in two weeks, an ugly win feels pretty good. Floyd Central held off a pesky Providence squad on Thursday night for a 45-42 win on Joe Hinton Court to break its three-game losing skid.
“It was nice to get a win,” said Floyd coach Kirk Hamsley, whose team hadn’t won since Jan. 9. “Providence’s kids played really hard and did a nice job. They did what they had to do to stay in the game. They spread the floor some and made us chase them. Give them a lot of credit for what they did tonight.”
The Pioneers (10-9) led 38-36 with 4:26 remaining, but Floyd battled back behind its pressure defense that gave the visitors fits all night. The Highlanders (10-9) forced 28 turnovers, including nine in the decisive fourth quarter as they grabbed a close win on Homecoming.
“I think the turnovers just finally caught up with us,” said Providence coach Brad Burden, whose team has now lost four of its last six. “Halfcourt traps have given us trouble all year long. Our point guard is a sophomore and we just don’t have kids who are really strong with the basketball. We can shoot the ball some and we can play defense, but we just don’t have anyone like (Brooke) Hinton for them who’s just not going to turn it over off the dribble. We have always struggled with turnovers. Their pressure, their length, their size all had something to do with that.”
Providence’s Meredith Endris led all scorers with 20 points, including four triples. Abbie Engle paced the victors with 11 points and Hinton scored eight of her 10 points in the final stanza.
Early on, the Pioneers’ defense stole the show as they held the hosts to 4-of-14 first-period shooting. A Kristen Burger basket with 22 seconds left in the first gave Floyd its first lead of the game, 10-8.
“We played hard,” Burden said. “We’re right there. Our defense has been there all season.”
The second quarter featured more defense from both sides and the Highlanders held a slim 18-16 lead at intermission, despite shooting just 26 percent.
“I thought our defense was pretty good and we were getting turnovers. But then we’d throw it away or bounce it off our leg or just make a bad decision offensively,” said Hamsley, whose team forced 14 Providence giveaways in the first half. “We’re just not playing hard like we need to.”
After Nichole Tucker’s steal and layup gave the Pioneers a 20-18 lead at the 7:26 mark in the third, Floyd ripped off a 14-5 spurt capped by a Tori Kingsley basket for a 32-25 advantage at the 1:20 mark. Providence, however, regrouped and closed within 34-31 heading to the fourth.
“We continued to talk about the things we were doing, but not turning the ball over,” Burden said. “Basketball’s an easy game. If it wasn’t, I couldn’t coach it. If we can do three things — defend, rebound, and take care of the ball — you can beat a lot of teams. We did two out of the three tonight and lost by a possession to a very good team.”
Floyd shot just 31 percent from the field and was a mediocre 57 percent from the foul line. Providence hit eight 3s and outrebounded the much bigger Highlanders, but could not overcome its red marks in the turnovers column.
“We have to get back to playing harder and getting after people, and we’re just not doing that right now,” Hamsley said. “We’re playing some different kids until we find somebody who wants to get out there and play hard. We need kids who want to play defense and rebound, and right now we’re just not getting that.”
The Pioneers will be back in action on Tuesday at home versus Lanesville. Floyd will return to Hoosier Hills Conference play the same night, hosting Columbus East.