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Lafayette guard Renee Clines heads up court against pressure from Madison County in Tuesday's regional final.

MADISON — For the second straight game, the Lafayette girls basketball team used a big third quarter to position itself for a playoff win.

However in Tuesday’s regional final at Madison County, the Hornets couldn’t carry that third quarter success into the fourth. Rather, Lafayette went more than seven minutes without scoring as the host Cowgirls rallied for a 42-37 win.

With the loss, LHS finishes the year 17-10. Madison (22-6) advances to a Class 1A semifinal Wednesday in Lakeland.

Trailing 22-18 at halftime after Madison closed on an 8-0 run, the Hornets settled back in early in the third.

Following a Lasage Ferguson putback that stretched the Cowgirls’ lead to six just 20 seconds into the third, LHS answered back with three straight buckets to regain the lead at 25-24 with 6:24 remaining in the quarter on a Haley Rosenbaum bucket from Brooklyn Fleming.

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Lafayette's Brooklyn Fleming shoots over Madison County's Kenyia Davis in the regional final Tuesday night.

And after each subsequent Madison answer, the Hornets responded. Charlie James drained a 3-pointer on a pass from Rosenbaum to answer a Madison putback to give Lafayette a 28-26 lead. When Dakayla Hopkins scored off an offensive rebound with three minutes remaining in the quarter to put the Cowgirls up 31-10, Renee Clines hit her fourth 3 on a Fleming assist following an offensive rebound to regain the lead. Fleming then added a putback with 1:28 left in the quarter to give the Hornets a 35-31 advantage after three.

But the Hornets wouldn’t score again until less than a minute remained when Fleming scored and was fouled on a drive to the basket.

Lafayette coach Jimmy Blankenship refused to comment following the game.

By then, it was too little, too late for LHS.

With the Hornets stuck in a scoring drought, the Cowgirls took the lead for a good on a Ferguson steal and layup with 4:40 remaining in the game. She made Madison’s next two buckets as well to stretch the Cowgirls’ advantage to 40-35 with 1:29 to go. Ferguson scored eight of Madison’s 11 points in the fourth. She finished with a game-high 18, while also pulling down seven rebounds and garnering four steals.

Clines led LHS with 12 points and also registered four steals. Her first 3-pointer with barely a minute left in the first quarter put the Hornets up 9-6 as they led 9-8 following one quarter. Another 3 from Clines early in the second helped LHS stay in front of the Cowgirls — the Hornets led 18-14 with three minutes left following a Rosenbaum putback.

However, Madison closed with a flourish, including six points in the final two minutes from Ferguson, including a putback in the closing seconds following a Lafayette turnover.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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