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Being Central Hardin’s point guard, Andy Kerr sees it as his job to get the Bruins’ offense in sync.
With the Bruins suddenly struggling against the poor-shooting Elizabethtown Panthers, Kerr got hot in a hurry Friday night.
The senior scored all 13 of his points in the final 6:52 as the Bruins beat the Panthers, 63-56 at Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium in both teams’ 17th District opener.
“I finally got open shots and I wasn’t going to pass them up,” Kerr said. “You’ll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
Kerr made 66.7 percent of the shots he did take, including an open 3-pointer on a kickout from senior guard Troy Squires with 6:52 remaining to give the Bruins the lead for good at 40-39. Kerr was scoreless before making the shot.
“About time he hit some shots,” joked Central Hardin senior wing Alex Crowder, who made the remark with Kerr within earshot. “But really, he came through big. With Troy in foul trouble, we needed someone to take over.”
The shot allowed the Bruins to take over. Kerr ignited a 14-0 run in 3:44 that gave the Bruins their largest lead at 51-39. The run ended as Kerr hit a 3-pointer on a drive-and-dish from Squires.
“Andy hit some big shots. He was clutch,” said veteran Central Hardin coach J.C. Wright.
Central Hardin (3-1) trailed for only 27 seconds. After Elizabethtown (1-2) tied the score at 2-2 on a jumper by sophomore center Zane Najdawi, the Bruins reeled off a 6-0 run and stretched the lead to 25-15 with 3:08 left in the second quarter as Squires buried a 3-pointer after a drive-and-dish pass to the right corner from Crowder.
“Tonight you had two teams,” lamented veteran Elizabethtown coach James Haire. “You had one team that wanted to beat the other team. And then you had a team that was just out there.”
Although it appeared as if the Panthers were going to stay out of it, they finally got something going. Elizabethtown, which trailed by six with less than 3 minutes to play in the third quarter, took its first – and only – lead at 39-37 with 7:19 left in the game on a basket in the lane by Najdawi, who finished with a double-double (11 points, game-high 11 rebounds).
“We didn’t get nervous at that point,” said Crowder, who matched Elizabethtown junior guard Nic McDonald with a game-high 15 points and also had six rebounds. “But it was disappointing that we let them back in the game like that. But we kept our composure and we got (our lead) back.”
Meanwhile, Elizabethtown’s composure waned. The Panthers gave up 26 points in the final 7 minutes after limiting the Bruins to 37 points in the first 25 minutes.
“We have to have better leadership on the floor because they wanted it more than we did,” said Elizabethtown senior guard Ja’Von Cotton. “This can’t happen and this has to stop. We didn’t show up tonight and as a leader, that’s on me.”
Haire said it was on everyone.
“Central Hardin did everything. They rebounded, they executed their offense and they attacked us while we just stood around. So this was a total team effort in losing and it starts with me,” said Haire, whose team had won six of its last seven meetings with the Bruins, including three straight at Charlie Rawlings. “I have to find out who wants and who needs to be on the floor. I just don’t see that passion in their play. I saw it in the other team, but I didn’t see it in ours.”
The Panthers, who were without injured seniors Chas Jones and Josh Williams, missed eight of their first nine shots and finished 19-of-54 from the field. Elizabethtown missed 22-of-28 attempts from the arc.
McDonald scored all but three of his points in the final 11 minutes for the Panthers, who also got six points and seven rebounds from sophomore forward Zach Patterson. Junior forward Dominique Harding added 10 rebounds, while junior reserve guard Ryan Harris had eight points and matched Kerr with a game-high two 3-pointers.
The teams combined for 27 first-half fouls, but the Bruins didn’t help themselves much at the foul line, barely making more than 50 percent (15-of-29). Central Hardin’s scoring output was its best in the teams’ last 10 meetings.
Squires finished with 10 points and two assists, while senior forward Cody Elmore had seven points, eight rebounds and a game-high five assists. Junior reserve forward Dillon Glenn chipped in with seven points and six rebounds.
“The boys are buying into what we’re doing,” said Wright, whose team earned its first win at Charlie Rawlings since Dec. 12, 2008. “We’re a very unselfish group and we’re just playing hard right now.
UP NEXT: Central Hardin hosts John Hardin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Elizabethtown hosts Grayson County at 8 p.m. Monday.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Hardin 10 1710 26—63
Elizabethtown 8 1514 19—56
Team FG FT R TP
Central Hardin 22-52 15-29 35 63
Elizabethtown 19-54 12-19 43 56
Player FG FT R TP
Crowder 5-12 5-8 6 15
Kerr 4-6 3-6 2 13
Squires 4-9 1-3 1 10
Elmore 2-7 2-5 8 7
McCullough 2-3 0-0 2 4
Glenn 3-6 1-1 6 7
Barnes 2-7 2-4 1 6
Whitehouse 0-0 1-2 1 1
Gordon 0-2 0-0 2 0
Player FG FT R TP
McDonald 5-10 3-4 3 15
Najdawi 5-7 1-2 11 11
Patterson 2-6 1-1 7 6
Harding 2-4 0-1 10 4
Cotton 1-12 1-2 2 3
Harris 2-6 2-2 1 8
Williams 1-6 2-4 3 5
Johnson 1-3 0-1 3 2
Gillock 0-0 2-2 0 2
3-POINTERS: CENTRAL HARDIN (4-15): Cody Elmore 1-4, Andy Kerr 2-3, Troy Squires 1-3, Jacob Barnes 0-2, Alex Crowder 0-2, Tyler McCullough 0-1. ELIZABETHTOWN (6-28): Ja’Von Cotton 0-8, Ryan Harris 2-5, Guy Williams 1-5, Nic McDonald 1-3, Zach Patterson 1-3, Tristan Johnson 0-2, Dominique Harding 0-1. ASSISTS: CENTRAL HARDIN (10): Cody Elmore 5, Alex Crowder 2, Troy Squires 2, Andy Kerr 1. ELIZABETHTOWN (10): Nic McDonald 4, Ja’Von Cotton 2, Zane Najdawi 2, Jackson Gillock 1, Guy Williams 1.