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Bluegrass coach David Jenkins thought his team overachieved a bit last season when the Colts lost to East Hardin in the Middle School Athletic Conference’s seventh-grade boys’ basketball tournament at John Hardin.
One year later, there’s not much more the season Colts could have achieved.
Three Bluegrass players scored 13 points or more on Thursday night as the top-seeded Colts capped off their record-breaking perfect season with a convincing 50-25 rout of the second-seeded Rebels in the MSAC seventh-grade final at West Hardin.
“I told you last year after that game that I thought we were a year ahead of schedule at that time,” Jenkins said. “But I also said that if we stuck together and put in the work, then we would have a chance at it this year.”
It was Bluegrass’ first seventh-grade boys’ title since 2004, when the Malik Rasheed-coached Colts set the school record with a 17-0 mark.
“We had a target on our back all season and we didn’t hide from that fact. We kind of relished it,” Jenkins said.
The Colts were expected to deliver even though they faced some adversity. Two players were dismissed from the team in the regular-season and a third player, a starter, transferred.
And then they had to deal with their nemesis, and the last team to beat them, on a neutral floor for the third and final time after the Colts swept the Rebels in the regular season.
“It’s difficult to face a team three times because you know each other so well,” Jenkins said. “So I want to commend East Hardin on a great season. They have a great coach (Brent Wagoner) and they have a lot of nice young players.”
The Colts had a lot of nice young players on the brink of success last year when they fell to the Rebels using a lineup of mostly sixth graders.
Now bigger, stronger and a year wiser, that experience shined on Thursday. Forward Mickey Pearson scored a game-high 16 points, while forward Anthony Witherspoon added 14 points and forward Zion Smalling had 13 points. Point guard Andrew Minnis added four points, while reserve guard Noah Tansil had two points and starting guard Jeremiah Evans had one point. Other players for the Colts are Jachai Walker, Caleb Fitzgerald and Tylus John.
“It’s really hard to be the favorite, but I’m proud of my kids,” said Jenkins, who is assisted by Alvin Stewart. “They grew as players, grew as a team and more importantly, they grew up as kids.”
The Colts never trailed and were tied for only 2:31. Bluegrass led the rest of the way after an Evans free throw gave his team a 3-2 lead with 3:09 left in the first quarter. The Colts scored off their first 10 possessions of the second half to take a pair of 21-point leads in the third quarter.
Starting forward Carter Ferguson scored a team-high 10 points for the Rebels, who were done in by 21 turnovers. Guard Harrison Moore added six points. Reserves Zare Cooper and Luke Emberton scored three points each, while reserve Tyler Sallee had two points and starting forward Eli Best had one. Other players for the Rebels were starting guards Jacob Hobbs and Skylar Lucas and reserves Jack Kisselbaugh, Wyatt Adkins, Gavin George, Zack South and Talon Farris.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.