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As good as the John Hardin Bulldogs looked Friday night, Daveon Greene insists they can play better.
Here’s thinking the Taylor County Cardinals would like to throw their hands up in disagreement.
Looking like they were already in peak postseason form, the seventh-ranked Bulldogs tuned up for this week’s 17th District Tournament at the Dawg Pound with an 81-39 thrashing of the visiting Cardinals.
“We’re playing all right but to me, we still haven’t peaked it,” said Greene, who had 18 points and a co-game-high six rebounds as the Bulldogs (23-3) set a school record with their 15th consecutive victory. “We’re still working on it, but I think we’re up and coming.”
The Bulldogs didn’t look like they needed much to work on in the first half.
John Hardin never trailed, opening the game with a 5-0 run. After a pair of free throws by Taylor County junior forward Caleb Wigginton, the Bulldogs answered with an 8-0 run, prompting first-year Cardinals coach and Meade County native Jeff Kidder to call his second timeout in the first 4 minutes.
The Bulldogs led 28-14 after the first quarter and 54-27 at the break. John Hardin made 20-of-34 shots in the first half, including 10-of-15 from the 3-point line.
“In practice, we move the ball around just like that and it finally carried over to the game,” said John Hardin senior guard Brandon Price. “We’re a good 3-point shooting team and it showed tonight.”
Most of John Hardin’s explosive first half came without Price scoring. He had eight assists before making his first basket, a runner in the lane which gave the Bulldogs a 45-24 lead with 3:08 left in the first half.
“That says a lot about his character,” said fifth-year John Hardin coach Mark Wells. “A lot of kids would have wanted to come out here on Senior Night and score as much as they can.”
Price might have a bone to pick with Wells after his coach pulled himself out of the game early in the fourth quarter needing just a bucket to cap off a double-double. Price finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
“I didn’t know about that,” Price said of missing the statistical feat. “And of course you want a double-double, but at the end of the day, I’m happy with getting the win.”
Greene was happy with the way Price ran the show, racking up assists to four players in the first 10 minutes.
“We played very good and it takes a lot for a point guard, who you know can score, to give up his scoring ability to find other people,” Greene said.
Price, who admitted he had been struggling from the field, was more than happy to oblige.
“I’ve been kind of forcing it lately,” Price said. “But it feels good to get the other guys involved. They work hard on both end of the floor and I love to reward them.”
Junior forward Keon Williams, who made his first six field-goal attempts, scored a game-high 21 points for John Hardin. Williams scored all but two of his points in the first 12 minutes. Junior guard Patrick Anderson chipped in with 13 points, five assists and four rebounds. Anderson was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the first quarter.
Wigginton paced the Cardinals (14-15) with 12 points and three rebounds, while fellow All-Region Team selection Quentin Goodin, a freshman guard, added 10 points. The Cardinals’ point total was their lowest against a region team this season. The Bulldogs’ point total matched the most allowed by the Cardinals this season, joining their 81-62 loss to Pulaski County on Dec. 28 in the Lake Cumberland Hoops Classic at Pulaski Southwestern.
JOHN HARDIN 81, TAYLOR COUNTY 39
Taylor County 14 13 5 7—39
John Hardin 28 26 15 14—81
Caleb Wigginton 12, Quentin Goodin 10, Spirit Smith 7, Austin Webster 5, Jordan Cundiff 3, Justice Gregory 2. FG: 12-36. FT: 13-17. 3-pointers: 2-9 (Smith 1-2, Wigginton 1-2, Goodin 0-2, Gregory 0-1, Austin VanMeter 0-1). Rebs: 17 (Webster 4). Assists: 6 (Goodin 2, Webster 2).
John Hardin (23-3)
Keon Williams 21, Daveon Greene 18, Patrick Anderson 13, Brandon Price 8, Elijah Smith 6, Matt Miller 5, Dimitri Cooper 4, Ricky Burns 2, Marcus Goree 2, Adryan Jackson 2, Gabe Montgomery 2. FG: 33-70. FT: 6-7. 3-pointers: 11-20 (Williams 4-5, Anderson 3-4, Smith 2-3, Miller 1-3, Price 1-2, Montgomery 0-2, Goree 0-1). Rebs: 35 (Greene 6, Jackson 6). Assists: 22 (Price 11, Anderson 5).
UP NEXT: John Hardin plays Elizabethtown or Fort Knox at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the 17th District Tournament semifinals at John Hardin.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org