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By NATHANIEL BRYAN email@example.com
HODGENVILLE — For the longest while, the LaRue County High School boys’ basketball team couldn’t seem to lose.
Now the Hawks can’t seem to win even against a slumping team. At home, no less.
Senior guard Stanton Shively scored a game-high 21 points and three other Green County players reached double figures as the Dragons downed the homestanding Hawks, 68-56 in an 18th District clash Friday night.
Senior shooting guard Clint Henderson, the Dragons’ leading scorer, chipped in with 11 points. Senior center Caleb Shirley, the tallest player by far on the floor, added 10 points and junior wing Justin Givens scored eight of his 10 points after halftime as the Dragons (5-5 overall, 3-1 district) snapped a four-game losing streak.
But it was the lively game from Shively which caught the Hawks (13-2, 3-1) off guard.
“He kind of came out of Henderson’s shadow,” said LaRue County senior forward Tyler Hornback, who reached a milestone in the loss. “We weren’t ready to get out of our game plan and get out on someone else.”
LaRue County, which has lost three of its last four meetings with Green County, won its first 13 games of the season before dropping back-to-back home games this week against 5th Region rivals Campbellsville and Green County. Prior to playing Campbellsville on Tuesday night, the Hawks were tied for the state lead in wins.
Last season, the Hawks won 15 of their first 17 games before back-to-back road losses to South Oldham and region rival Elizabethtown started a swoon of nine losses in their final 12 contests.
“We went through something like this last year, too,” LaRue County reserve freshman guard Jordan Brewer said. “But hopefully we’ll come out of it faster this time.”
Brewer scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the first half for LaRue County, while senior post Bryan Bault added 12 points, two steals, two blocks and a team-high eight rebounds.
Hornback scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. With a pair of free throws with 2:13 left in the opening period, Hornback became the latest player to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau for a career.
Hornback didn’t become aware of the feat until the LaRue County student section, standing behind the Hawks’ basket in the first half, loudly proclaimed, “One thousand! One thousand and one!” during those shots from the charity stripe.
“That’s kind of when it clicked,” Hornback said. “It’s a nice achievement, but this is still all about the team. And it’s really hard to get excited about something individual like that when the team loses.”
LaRue County never trailed in the first half, but could never seem to gain much breathing room. Its largest lead was six points (twice, 8-2 and 10-4), but it allowed the Dragons to pull even six times before halftime.
There were four more ties after halftime, the final coming at 37-37 with 4:55 left to play in the third quarter. Green County responded with a 10-2 run in less than 3 minutes.
A 3-pointer by reserve junior forward Christian Mullins pulled the Hawks within 57-55 with 4:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, but that shot turned out to be the Hawks’ final made field goal as the Dragons put LaRue County away with a game-closing 11-1 run.
LaRue County, which shot better than 50 percent from the field while winning all three games of its own National Guard Holiday Classic at home last month, never found its shooting stroke. The Hawks were 19-of-47 from the field, and to make matters worse, they made just 2-of-12 3-point attempts and missed 11 free throws.
“It’s hard for you to keep your head up when you’re not shooting well,” said Brewer, who was 1-of-7 from the 3-point line. “But you have to try not to get down on yourself, because that will only make things worse.”
LaRue County coach Paul Childress said there could be a silver lining in the loss.
“It’s typical for us at this time of year. And I think we have kids who will put in the effort, so I’m not worried about them getting refocused. We just have to put these games in the past,” he said. “But now we can use this to get through to them that we must improve in order to be better down the road.”
GREEN COUNTY 68, LARUE COUNTY 56
Green County 17 12 22 17—68
LaRue County 17 15 14 10—56
Green County (5-5, 3-1)
Stanton Shively 21, Clint Henderson 11, Justin Givens 10, Caleb Shirley 10, John Stone 6, Skylar Shively 4, Dustin Curry 4, Grayson Bills 2. FG: 28-63. FT: 4-13. 3-pointers: 4-9 (Givens 2-3, Henderson 1-3, St. Shively 1-3).
LaRue County (13-2, 3-1)
Jordan Brewer 14, Bryan Bault 12, Tyler Hornback 11, Tyler Nall 8, Christian Mullins 5, Kyle Sheeran 4, Christian Seymour 2. FG: 19-47. FT: 16-27. 3-pointers: 2-12 (J. Brewer 1-7, Mullins 1-2, Anthony Myrks Brewer 0-1, Seymour 0-1, Sheeran 0-1). Rebs: 26 (Bault 8, A. Brewer 4, Nall 4). Assists: 4 (J. Brewer 1, Nall 1, Seymour 1, Sheeran 1). Steals: 5 (Bault 2). Blocks: 6 (Bault 2).
UP NEXT: LaRue County plays at Spencer County (4-12) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 505-1758