- Special Sections
- Public Notices
MUNFORDVILLE — The North Hardin Trojans are back in a familiar position – the Boys’ 5th Region Basketball Tournament championship.
Exploding for 22 points in the third quarter, the Trojans pulled away from the Bethlehem Eagles, 61-49 in the late semifinal Friday night at Hart County High School.
“We came out ready and we didn’t want to overlook them,” said North Hardin senior guard Ruben Gosa, who poured in 25 points and dished out three assists. “Everyone was looking forward to John Hardin, but we wanted to take it one game at a time. We came out and played hard.”
North Hardin (24-8) advanced to the championship game for the 14th time under Coach Ron Bevars, who is 12-1 in region finals. The Trojans have won 12 region titles, most of any region member. Their last title came in 2010, when they beat Campbellsville, 69-66.
The Trojans turned a four-point lead into a 21-point cushion in less than 6 minutes in the third quarter.
“The way (Bethlehem) Coach (Artie) Braden’s teams play, it’s tough,” Bevars said. “They make you chase the ball for so long and they play that match-up zone that’s different than when he was at John Hardin. I’d much rather be up in front of those guys than behind.”
Bevars got his wish in the second half.
After a layup by Bethlehem senior Jordan Cooper-Livers, Gosa converted a three-point play 11 seconds later and then senior Tyler Landry and Gosa had back-to-back layups to stretch the lead to 38-27, prompting Braden to call a 30-second timeout.
But Braden couldn’t slow North Hardin’s momentum. Sophomore guard Tyronn King had an old-fashioned three-point play, and after Bethlehem senior Will Hale made 1-of-2 free throws, Gosa drained a 3-pointer from the left baseline to build a 44-28 lead with 3:06 left.
Bethlehem senior Harrison Rogers nailed a 15-foot jumper, but Landry made a layup, Gosa had another three-point play and then senior Scotty Sterusky picked off a pass for a breakaway dunk as the lead swelled to 51-30 after three quarters.
“We were running our offense and sharing the ball,” Gosa said. “We like to play an up-tempo game. We want to play a fast pace. We put pressure on them defensively. Pressure makes pipes burst and that’s the way we play. We want to get all into you and pressure you.”
The Eagles (26-6) didn’t get any closer than 12 the final 8 minutes.
“Our kids, we’re so proud of them the way they fought, the way they battled all year,” Braden said. “They laid it on the line tonight (but we) just came up short.”
“I thought we had some troubles,” he added. “Our execution at times fell apart and enabled them to go on little bitty runs, and we couldn’t overcome so many runs that they had. That was the difference in the ballgame.”
With 11 points, 15 rebounds and two assists, Landry was a big factor. The Eagles couldn’t match up with his 6-foot-6 frame, and if they tried to double team him, Landry found the open man. The Trojans had 12 second-chance points compared to Bethlehem’s four.
“That was our strength,” Bevars said. “We felt like we had an advantage there. Tyler does a good job of dishing it off if he’s not open. Tyler was a big key for us.”
Cooper-Livers paced Bethlehem with 22 points and Rogers added 10.
The Trojans built a 12-point lead on three occasions in the first quarter and led 21-7 after a putback by Landry.
Bethlehem started to find some offense, trimming the deficit to 27-21 after a 10-footer by Cooper-Livers, but Gosa answered with a 15-foot jumper to push the lead to 29-21 at halftime.
“We did a good job early in the game,” Gosa said. “We ran our offense and we got good shots. We got away from it a little bit the second quarter, but we got it going again in the second half.”
KentuckyStandard sports editor Peter Zubaty contributed to this story. Chuck Jones can be reached at (270) 505-1759 or email@example.com.
North Hardin 19 1022 10—61
Bethlehem 7 14 9 19—49
Team FG FT R TP
North Hardin 21-50 16-23 37 61
Bethlehem 18-47 11-13 25 49
Player FG FT R TP
Lewis 1-8 2-2 2 4
King 3-6 1-1 2 8
Gosa 7-14 10-10 4 25
Sterusky 4-7 1-4 2 10
Landry 5-9 1-4 15 11
Thomas 1-1 0-0 1 2
Jackson 0-1 0-0 1 0
Rasheed 0-3 0-0 1 0
Freeman 0-1 0-0 3 0
Draper 0-0 1-2 1 0
Player FG FT R TP
Cooper-Livers 9-22 4-4 6 22
Rogers 4-9 0-0 4 10
Beisler 1-2 0-0 0 2
Rossoll 2-4 4-5 7 8
Crawford 0-0 0-0 0 0
Browning 0-4 0-0 1 0
Cervantes 1-1 0-0 0 2
Hale 1-3 1-2 2 3
Hutchins 0-2 2-2 1 2
3-POINTERS: NORTH HARDIN (3-7): Tyronn King 1-1, Ruben Gosa 1-2, Scotty Sterusky 1-2, Khalil Rasheed 0-2. BETHLEHEM (2-8): Harrison Rogers 2-3, Jacob Browning 0-1, Shane Beisler 0-1, Jude Hutchins 0-1, Jordan Cooper-Livers. ASSISTS: NORTH HARDIN (8): Ruben Gosa 3, Tyronn King 2, Tyler Landry 2, Scotty Sterusky 1. BETHLEHEM (5): Jordan Cooper-Livers 2, Harrison Rogers 1, Shane Beisler 1, Ben Rossoll 1.