Bulldogs fall a point short to Rangers in first state championship appearance

Lapel junior Madelyn Poynter goes for a layup Feb. 25 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Zach Carter, DN
Lapel junior Madelyn Poynter goes for a layup Feb. 25 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Zach Carter, DN

“They have to understand that they may not be state champions,” Lapel head coach Zach Newby said. “But they're Madison County champions, they’re sectional champions, they’re regional champions and semi-state champions.”

Lapel girls basketball made its first-ever trip to the state finals on Feb. 25. In the end, the Bulldogs fell to the defending 2A champions, Forest Park, 38-37 as junior Madelyn Poynter’s last-second three-point shot bounced off the rim.

The contest at Gainbridge Fieldhouse started with defense and more defense as both teams struggled to find a way to score. But the second half is where that began to change. During the third quarter, the Rangers (26-3) went on a scoring run and their rebounding was a big key.

“You got to get a body on or you got to make sure you keep them off the boards,” Newby said. “There's just no way with JV [junior varsity] players and practice to simulate that. You're not going to be able to take the JV player and turn her into a division one player.”

By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs (22-8) were down by eight. In the final eight minutes, Lapel turned up the heat, and Poynter was a big reason for the success. She finished the contest leading the team with 15 points. She also added five rebounds and two assists. 

“It feels great,” Poynter said. “I don't know how to explain it, it was just amazing. I'm so glad that I'm here and I got this opportunity to play at state.”

Throughout the match, whistles were a common occurrence. The problem was that most of them were on the Bulldogs. They finished with 13 personal fouls, compared to the Ranger’s six. Needless to say, the Lapel faithful were not pleased. But the calls did not change Lapel’s mindset.

“They've just been gritty all year,” Newby said. “You know, they don't worry about that. And we did more so at the beginning of the season, but that just shows how coachable they are. They listen, you know, we talked about controlling what you can control and you don't control the fouls called or the travels called or any of that.”

Lapel fought back and took the lead with 17.5 seconds left, but Forest Park senior and Miami (Ohio) commit Amber Tretter sank a layup that ended up being the game-winner. 

Even when defeated, the crowd gave a big hand to the Bulldogs. 

“I'm so thankful for those people, for being there for me and believing in me and believing in my players,” Newby said. “You know, this community means everything to me, which is why I'm still here and I have no interest in going anywhere else. I just want to be where I grew up, and I want my kids to be here and feel that support because I know any one of those people in the seats would do anything for me or any one of these girls at any point in time.”

Contact Zach Carter with comments at zachary.carter@bsu.edu or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.


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