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North Hardin coach Ron Bevars didn’t alter his approach leading into Friday night’s game even though he was on the verge of another milestone, but it was running through the minds of the Trojans.
Bevars recorded his 800th victory with North Hardin’s 88-60 victory over the Marion County Knights in the gym named after him.
“We were talking about it, but we had to try to remember to treat it like another game,” said North Hardin senior Ruben Gosa, who poured in 26 points on 11-of-23 shooting. “That’s what he wanted us to do. We had to try to block it out of our mind, but we really wanted to get it for him.”
Bevars, who is in his 38th season as the head coach, is only the fourth coach in Kentucky to accomplish the feat. He joined William Keen, Billy Hicks and Dale Mabrey. Like Bevars, Hicks and Mabrey each reached the plateau this season.
“I’m glad it’s over with,” Bevars said. “Someone asked me about it the other day and I told them, ‘799 is almost as good.’ It’s just a number. Most of it is just longevity. I’ve had good teams, good kids, good assistants and good help. I didn’t do it by myself.”
Bevars has compiled a record of 800-340 during his legendary career. He has guided the Trojans to 17 17th District Tournament championships and 12 5th Region Tournament titles.
Bevars’ win wasn’t the only highlight of the night. Senior Malachi Mullins, a team manager and PA announcer, dressed for his first game. He entered with 52 seconds left and drained a 3-pointer, setting off a huge celebration on the bench and in the stands.
“It was great to see Malachi score,” said North Hardin senior guard Nick Lewis, who had 20 points and eight rebounds. “I was praying when he shot the first one for it to go in. I knew he’d get another one. I’m glad he did. He’s always shooting 3s before practice. I’m glad he got his points. It was a great night overall.”
North Hardin (19-7) won its fifth straight but it didn’t come easy. The Trojans, who never trailed, built double-digit leads in each of the first two quarters, but the Knights clawed their way back each time and cut their deficit to three in the third quarter.
After two free throws by junior guard Alex Smith with 6:35 left to cut the lead to 64-57, the Trojans used a 17-0 run over the next 5 minutes to seal the win. Gosa started the spurt with a three-point play and finished it with back-to-back layups.
“We finally locked down defensively,” Lewis said. “It was a simple problem to fix. We weren’t playing good defense. Our offense was good, but a lot of our problems were on the defensive end. We started playing good defense and getting after it in the fourth quarter.”
Gosa scored 11 points to spark the outburst. In the third quarter, he was only 2-of-8 from the field, including 1-of-6 on 3s. Gosa changed his approach in the fourth quarter to attack the basket and he made all six of his shots.
“I was settling in the third quarter,” said Gosa, who also had seven steals and three assists. “In practice, I was making everything. Good shooters have some nights like that where they don’t fall. I started penetrating and getting better shots.”
Besides Gosa and Lewis, North Hardin got double-doubles from senior center Tyler Landry (16 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks) and sophomore guard Tyronn King (11 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, three assists).
Junior guard Alex Smith paced Marion County (11-14) with 24 points. He made 8-of-10 shots, including going 5-for-7 beyond the 3-point arc. Junior forward Clay Lanham added 14 points.
NORTH HARDIN 88, MARION COUNTY 60
Marion County 17 13 22 8—60
North Hardin 23 17 20 28—88
Alex Smith 24, Clay Lanham 14, Vincent Collins 7, Chase Lancaster 5, Latrelle Irvin 5, Anton Cowherd 5. FG: 21-52. FT: 10-14. 3-pointers: 8-21 (Smith 5-7, Lanham 2-6, Irvin 1-1, Lancaster 0-3, Anthony Mattingly 0-2, Jalen Powell 0-1, Cowherd 0-1). Rebs: 37 (Collins 8). Assists: 8 (Lancaster 4).
Ruben Gosa 26, Nick Lewis 20, Tyler Landry 16, Tyronn King 11, Scotty Sterusky 6, Khalil Rasheed 4, Malachi Mullins 3, Johnny Hopkins 2. FG: 34-76. FT: 16-24. 3-pointers: 4-18 (Lewis 2-3, Gosa 1-8, Mullins 1-3, King 0-2, Malik Thomas 0-1, Sterusky 0-1). Rebs: 42 (Landry 10, King 10). Assists: 8 (King 3, Gosa 3).
UP NEXT: North Hardin plays at Bardstown at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.