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MUNFORDVILLE — LaRue County junior Tyler Howell made sure the Hawks got off on the right foot in the Boys’ 5th Region Basketball Tournament and senior Kelton Ford made sure they finished it that way.
Howell scored the team’s first 12 points and 14 of the first 16 to help the Hawks build a 23-point halftime lead and Ford had 12 in the second half to hold off the Adair County Indians, 58-45 on Monday night in the region quarterfinals at Hart County.
“The first half we were struggling and I felt like they were sleeping on Tyler,” said Ford, who had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. “They were keying on me and Tyler stepped up. He gave us that big spark to go on that big run.”
LaRue County (21-7) advances to face John Hardin (26-3) at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. The Bulldogs knocked off Bardstown, 68-64 in the quarterfinals. John Hardin beat the Hawks, 84-78 in overtime in last year’s region semifinals at Central Hardin.
Howell made his first five shots from the field. He could have had an even bigger night if he hit his free throws. Howell was only 4-of-10 in the first half.
“I was just attacking misses and trying to get in the right spots,” said Howell, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. “All eyes are usually on Putt-Putt (Ford), so I was trying to get to the right spots so he could find me.”
Leading 5-4, Howell scored seven straight points to give the Hawks a 12-4 lead after the first quarter. Micah Wiseman made a layup 36 seconds into the second quarter to break Howell’s scoring spree.
After Adair County eighth-grader Chance Melton made 1-of-2 free throws, the Hawks used a 13-0 run to build a comfortable 27-5 lead. Ford scored seven points to spark the run.
Adair County (18-13) finally snapped its more than 6-minute scoring drought when Zach Hutchinson made 2-of-3 with 3.4 seconds left. But Ford made a running 3-pointer at the buzzer from 30 feet to give the Hawks a 30-7 lead.
The Hawks, who ran their winning streak to seven, held the Indians without a field goal for nearly 12 minutes. Junior Matt Fudge made a layup with 2:10 left in the first quarter and then the Indians didn’t have another one until eighth-grader Kel Stotts made a short jumper with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter.
“I thought our 1-3-1 caused a lot of problems,” LaRue County coach Paul Childress said. “Usually we don’t play it until the second half, but I thought it might work against them. They were playing passive and you could tell it really bothered them. In the second half, they were more aggressive. They changed gears and we didn’t.”
Adair County shot the ball much better the final two quarters. After going 0-for-9 from behind the 3-point line in the first half, the Indians made seven of their final 12.
That helped the Indians get back in the game. They trailed by 16 at the end of three quarter and pulled within nine on two occasions in the fourth quarter.
But each time the Hawks had an answer and Ford was at the center of it. He dished to junior Kody Key-Close for a layup once and made two free throws to push the lead to 53-42 with 1:44 remaining.
Senior Dustin Coulter made 1-of-2 free throws and Ford added two more to seal the win for the Hawks.
“Putt-Putt made some big free throws and came up with a couple big steals,” Howell said. “I thought the biggest thing is how he took care of the ball against their pressure the second half. They were trying to get it out of his hands, but he did a great job.”
Childress said he wasn’t surprised how the Indians played the second half. He admitted this was the first time in weeks the Hawks didn’t put a team away when they had a chance.
“That’s something we’ve focused on and this is probably the first time in the last two or three weeks we’ve done that,” Childress said. “We were in passive mode the second half. You have to give them credit. They were playing hard and you know Coach (Mark) Fudge’s teams aren’t going to quit. Overall it was a good effort even though it wasn’t pretty.”
Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adair County 4 317 21—45
LaRue County 12 1810 18—58
Team FG FT R TP
AdairCounty 17-40 4-8 22 45
LaRueCounty 19-41 3-12 36 58
Player FG FT R TP
Shelley 1-2 0-1 1 2
Fudge 3-7 0-0 1 7
Stotts 2-10 0-0 3 5
Melton 4-7 2-4 7 10
Hixson 1-1 0-0 0 2
Back 1-2 0-0 1 3
Hutchinson 1-2 2-3 0 5
Bennett 1-5 0-0 2 3
J. Willis 3-4 0-0 0 8
T. Pooler 0-0 0-2 1 0
Player FG FT R TP
Ford 5-14 9-13 7 22
Coulter 1-4 1-2 4 3
Harmon 0-2 0-0 4 0
Key-Close 1-3 2-2 6 4
Howell 6-9 5-11 11 17
Wiseman 4-7 0-0 0 8
Sheffer 2-2 0-0 3 4
3-POINTERS: ADAIR COUNTY (7-21): Jayden Willis 2-2, Colton Back 1-2, Zach Hutchinson 1-2, Ty Bennett 1-4, Matt Fudge 1-5, Kel Stotts 1-6. LARUE COUNTY (3-12): Kelton Ford 3-6, Dustin Coulter 0-1, Thomas Harman 0-2, Micah Wiseman 0-3. ASSISTS: ADAIR COUNTY (11): Matt Fudge 5, Ty Bennett 3, Kel Stotts 2, Colton Back 1. LARUE COUNTY (10): Kelton Ford 7, Thomas Harman 1, Kody Key-Close 1, Tyler Howell 1.