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The LaRue County Hawks keep winning 18th District Tournament titles. The Caverna Colonels would like to end their drought.
When the teams clash at 8:30 tonight in the championship game at Hart County High School, the top-seeded Hawks (19-7) will look to become the first district team to win five straight titles. LaRue County is making its seventh straight final appearance (also a district boys’ record) and its 33rd appearance overall since its inaugural season in 1958-59. The Hawks have been the district champion 18 times and the runner-up 14 times.
“It’s a testament to the hard work the players and coaches have put in the past seven years,” Larue County coach Paul Childress said Thursday afternoon. “Obviously it shows the young kids coming up that we have expectations. We’ve already punched our ticket to the region, but we still want to go in as a winner. More important than a district title is going to region as a winner. The guys know that I and I think they’d want to go out there and take care of business.
The second-seeded Colonels (17-12) are back in the final for just the second time in the last nine seasons and are seeking their 16th title since the program’s inaugural season in 1949-50. Should Caverna lose tonight, it would be the school’s 20th runner-up finish.
Tonight is the teams’ 12th finals appearance against the other. Caverna leads 6-5, but LaRue County has won the last three (2011, 2003, 1998).
Caverna is coming off a 70-63 win over the third-seeded Green County Dragons in Wednesday’s second semifinal. Caverna led by 17 early, only to watch the Dragons rally to tie the score at 50. Caverna outscored Green County, 20-13 in the final 4 minutes.
“They pretty much controlled it early,” Childress said. “They’re athletic and quick. They don’t have a whole lot of size, but they’ll try to thrive off their press with their quickness.”
LaRue County is coming off a 50-28 win over the fourth-seeded Hart County Raiders in Tuesday night’s first semifinal. Senior point guard Kelton Ford scored a game-high 16 points, while senior shooting guard Dustin Coulter added 15. The 28 points allowed were a season best for the Hawks and was their best defensive performance since beating Cloverport Frederick Fraize, 99-27 on Dec. 1, 2007, in the 3rd Region Tip-Off Classic at Meade County – a span of 170 games.
“I thought we played well defensively. We mixed it up. They didn’t make a lot of shots, but we definitely wanted to speed the game up,’ Childress said. “They did a good job of keeping the tempo the way they wanted. So I was really pleased with the way we defended.”
This is the teams’ fourth meeting this season. Caverna earned a 53-48 win Dec. 14 in Hodgenville before the Hawks notched a 67-64 decision Dec. 29 in the championship game of the Hawks’ own National Guard Holiday Classic behind 25 points and 17 rebounds from junior forward Tyler Howell. LaRue County then rolled to a 75-43 win Jan. 26 in Horse Cave as five Hawks scored in double figures.
“We’re confident with the way we’re playing right now,” Childress said. “You don’t want to go in too confident, but at the same time, you have to throw out the previous games and stats and just play your game.”
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.