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The first Friday of the New Year offers some intriguing matchups on the hardwood, including two boys’ 17th District games and an 18th District doubleheader.
Central Hardin hosts Elizabethtown at 7:30 p.m. in the second meeting between the teams. The Bruins won the first meeting, 63-56 on Dec. 7 at Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium. Elizabethtown coach James Haire can find a lot of things that went wrong in that game.
“First of all, I don’t think we came ready to play,” Haire said. “We didn’t value the basketball. We didn’t match their intensity. I don’t think we defended well. I could keep going. I think a lot of that had to do with Central. They were prepared and came ready to play.”
Elizabethtown (7-2, 0-1 district) has been on a roll since that loss, winning six straight. Haire said a big reason for the turnaround is the Panthers have cut down on their turnovers.
“Our decision making has gotten better,” he said. “We’re getting the ball where it needs to be in particular offenses against particular defenses. We’re playing better. I’d just like to see us be more consistent.”
The Panthers have held all opponents to less than 50 points during their winning streak. Haire said he’s pleased with their effort, but there are certain things they still need to do better on the defensive end.
Central Hardin (6-5, 1-2) is coming off a 57-54 loss to North Hardin on Wednesday. It was a game the Bruins led by three with less than 2 minutes left. Despite the disappointing loss, Haire expects the Bruins to be ready for tonight’s game.
“They do execute their offense very well and they attack the basket,” Haire said. “They shoot the ball with confidence and it seems like everyone has the green light (to shoot). They have real active hands on the defensive end. They play hard. I’m sure (Central Hardin coach) J.C. (Wright) is pleased with their effort.”
North Hardin, fresh off its win over the Bruins, plays at Fort Knox (2-7, 0-2) in a district game. The Trojans won the first meeting, 77-44 on Nov. 30 at Ron Bevars Gymnasium.
The Trojans have played well in recent weeks. They’ve won two straight and five of their last six after a three-game losing skid. North Hardin coach Ron Bevars isn’t concerned with playing two district games in three days.
“I think this is a pretty focused group so far,” Bevars said. “So far, they’re a good bunch to be around. They’ve given a good effort in every game. They know the Fort Knox kids, probably better than we (coaches) do. I think they’ll be ready to play.”
John Hardin (9-3) will be without senior point guard Brandon Price tonight when the Bulldogs play at Meade County (4-9). Price sprained an ankle against Ohio County on Sunday. Coach Mark Wells said Price won’t play again until Tuesday’s district game versus Central Hardin.
“We’ve decided to hold him out,” Wells said. “We figured it’s best to sit him out. If he played, he wouldn’t be 100 percent and you risk a further injury. It’s more important to get him ready for Tuesday night.”
John Hardin has won four straight against Meade County since the Green Wave’s 44-30 victory in 2008, but Wells realizes it will be tough without Price. Junior guard Patrick Anderson will take over at the point, while sophomore guard Elijah Smith and freshman guard Matt Miller could see time there as well.
“I have a lot of confidence in Patrick,” Wells said. “He’s a true point guard. He’s always been a point guard. Elijah has played point in middle school and Matt Miller can play there as well. I feel good about our point guard. It does change us because Brandon’s able to cover up a lot of mistakes. We’re going to have to execute a little better without Brandon.”
The Hawks (7-5, 1-1) host Green County (3-11, 1-2) in a matchup of teams going in opposite directions. LaRue County has won three straight and six of its last seven, while the Dragons have dropped five consecutive games.
“Green County is a typical Green County team,” LaRue County coach Paul Childress said. “They are going to play you physical and they are going to play hard. They’ve been improving. It is a district game, so we can’t underestimate them because they have a losing record.”
Childress has been pleased with his team’s progress, especially the play of junior forward Tyler Howell, in recent weeks. The Hawks finished second in the Capital City Classic at Frankfort Western Hills prior to Christmas and won their own tournament – the National Guard Holiday Classic – following the holiday.
“We were able to get better over the Christmas break and we’re seeing progress being made,” Childress said. “I think they’re getting comfortable in their new roles. We growing as a team and we’re developing some chemistry. It’s all part of the growing process.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Lady Hawks meet Green County in a battle of district unbeatens. The Lady Dragons (7-5) are 3-0 in district play, while LaRue County (8-3) is 2-0.
“Any district game is an important game,” LaRue County coach Travis Wootton said. “We want to prove a point. I would say the second game is the most important because it’s the tiebreaker, but it’s an important game to set the tone for the rest of the year.”
Wootton said the Lady Hawks are coming off a successful showing in Lexington Catholic’s Republic Bank Holiday Classic where they went 2-2. They followed that up by hammering Bardstown, 63-27 on Thursday night.
“I thought that was a really good tournament for us,” Wootton said. “We played two teams ranked in the preseason top 10 and we played well. We had a chance to win. I think that gave the girls a lot of confidence. It showed we can play with anybody. Now we need to take the next step and beat somebody.”
Other girls’ games this weekend are: John Hardin (13-3) at Thomas Nelson (1-9) on Friday; North Hardin (13-2) at Louisville Assumption (8-5) on Friday; Wanneroo (Australia) at Meade County (8-6) and Elizabethtown (10-4) at Adair County (11-4) on Saturday.
Other boys’ games this weekend are: Daviess County (8-8) at John Hardin on Saturday and Wanneroo at Meade County on Saturday.
Chuck Jones can be reached at (270) 505-1759 or email@example.com.