LEXINGTON — Central's zone defense stopped Rogers in the fourth quarter, and the Pirates struggled nearly as much at the free-throw line the rest of the game.
The combination allowed the Wildcats to grind out a 49-45 win in the first round of the Lauderdale County girls high school basketball tournament.
"We had a lot of trouble getting our motor started," Central coach Norman Lovelady said. "We were lucky to get out of here with a win. They missed some free throws, and they're usually automatic from the line."
Rogers led the first three quarters and two minutes of the game, but never by more than four in the second half.
Against Central's 2-3 zone, the Pirates went scoreless from the field for the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, until Erin Clemmons' 3-pointer with a minute left.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats took their first lead at 34-32 on Abby Keener's basket with 5:33 to play.
Central led by as many as seven before Clemmons' 3 sparked a late Rogers comeback bid.
The Pirates cut their deficit to two with 15 seconds left and again with 5 seconds remaining, but never could close the gap while struggling to convert at the free-throw line.
Rogers made 18 of 31 foul shots, while Central was 23-of-31.
Central limited second-chance points, controlling the defensive boards with 29, while Rogers had five offensive rebounds.
"Rebounding out of our zone defense was big," Keener said. "That and free throws were the difference in the game."
Keener finished with a game-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds. Whitaker added 12 points and seven boards.
Lindsay Hamner and Brodie Belcher scored 11 points each to lead Rogers, which dressed seven players. Maggie Green added 10 points.
Central advances to the semifinals to play today's Mars Hill-Wilson winner Thursday at 8 p.m.
Lexington 60, Waterloo 19: Lexington started on a 21-5 and cruised from there to an opening-round win.
It gets harder from here for the hosts, who play the winner of today's Lauderdale County-Brooks game in the semifinals Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
"I felt like our starters did what they were supposed to do: Take care of business and get other people in the game," Lexington coach Nick Cottrell said. "Come Thursday, we'll have to play a good team. Brooks beat Mars Hill over Christmas break, and Lauderdale County beat us by 10 on Friday. We'll have our work cut out for us."
Haven Albright scored nine of her game-high 19 points in the first half for the Golden Bears. Morgan Stults added 11 in all.
Stults' 3-pointer followed by a steal and fast-break layup by Makayla Smith put Lexington up by as many as 28 with 1:30 left in the first half. The Golden Bears took a 38-13 lead into halftime and extended it to a 30-point lead in the first minute of the third quarter.
Baylee Atkinson led Waterloo with 11 points.