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BARDSTOWN — John Hardin senior Brandon Price had seen enough and he had a simple message during a timeout. Trailing the Bardstown Tigers by 12 with 5 minutes left, Price told his teammates it was time to go to work.
The Bulldogs took Price’s message to heart. With Price and junior guard Patrick Anderson leading the attack, John Hardin closed the game on a 24-7 run to rally for a 76-71 victory in a rematch of last season’s 5th Region Tournament championship.
“I told them enough is enough,” Price said. “I felt like they were picking on us. I told them it’s time … let’s go play.”
Although the season is only two weeks old, the Bulldogs said this was an important win because of how they did it. After blowing fourth-quarter and overtime leads in a season-opening loss to Henderson County, they found a way to win this after leading for much of the first three quarters.
“I was just telling the young guys, we don’t give up,” said John Hardin senior forward Daveon Greene, who had 21 points and six rebounds. “We had a lot of stuff go wrong in the second half. We missed some shots, we weren’t playing good defense, I got a technical (foul). We said this enough and we just kept fighting.”
Things looked like they were unraveling for the Bulldogs (2-1) after leading nearly the entire third quarter. Senior guard Devonte Grundy’s putback with 7.8 seconds left gave Tigers their first lead of the second half at 50-49.
After Greene made a short jumper, Grundy sparked a 14-1 run, scoring 10 points to give Bardstown a 64-52 lead with 5:08 remaining. He made a layup and then drained a straightaway 3-pointer. Sophomore guard Keanu Young drove in for a layup and then Grundy converted a three-point play and two free throws on Greene’s technical. Junior Seivon Schooling’s putback capped the run.
The Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure, forcing seven turnovers and holding Bardstown scoreless for 3 minutes and 27 seconds.
With the defense getting stops, Price and Anderson took over offensively. The duo combined to score 23 consecutive points and turned a 12-point deficit into a 75-68 lead with 24.2 seconds left.
“I felt like we were attacking,” Price said. “I thought we let the defense dictate us. We settled for jump shots and stopped attacking. We started attacking again in the fourth quarter and we got to the rim.”
Anderson was limited by foul trouble for much of the first three quarters, but came up with all 10 of his points during the crucial game-ending run.
“In basketball, you’re going to have times when you’re in foul trouble and have to sit on the bench,” Anderson said. “I have to give credit to my teammates for keeping me in the game and keeping me in the right mindset. I came in and was able to score and get back in that groove.”
Although they escaped with a win, the Bulldogs realize they need to get better in certain areas. Price said the team must get better defensively, allowing more than 70 points for the second time this season.
“This shows us we have a lot of things to work on,” John Hardin coach Mark Wells said. “It showed we have some mental toughness like last year after falling behind. We got ourselves in a hole but we got back out of it. You have to give Bardstown credit. They are a really good team. We have a lot of things to work on. Like last year, it’s going to take a while.”
Like the 2012 region final when he poured in 37 points, Price did most of the damage, scoring a game-high 35 points. He made 10-of-19 shots from the field, including 3-of-7 3-pointers. He nailed all 12 free throws.
Grundy led the Tigers with 34 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard L.J. Cowherd chipped in with 14 points. Bardstown played without senior guards Marcus Cosby and Dee Yocum.
“This is only the second game,” Bardstown coach James Brewer said. “It’s not the end of the world. We played sloppy in the first game. We got better today. I know the results don’t show it, but I like how we progressed.
“This was two good teams and a lot of great players,” he added. “We need to learn to take care of the basketball and continue to progress. We’ll learn from this.”
In the first 13 minutes, the lead changed hands four times and featured five ties in a battle of region heavyweights before the Bulldogs took control late in the second quarter.
John Hardin took a 31-30 lead after Price made a layup with 3:07 remaining before halftime. He scored his team’s final 13 points of the second quarter, including three free throws after being fouled near midcourt to give the Bulldogs a 42-38 halftime lead.
JOHN HARDIN 76, BARDSTOWN 71
John Hardin 17 25 7 27—76
Bardstown 16 22 12 21—71
John Hardin (2-1)
Brandon Price 35, Daveon Greene 21, Patrick Anderson 10, Elijah Smith 4, Keon Williams 4, Johannesburg Boulware 2. FG: 27-49. FT: 19-24. 3-pointers: 3-12 (Price 3-7, Smith 0-2, Williams 0-2, Matt Miller 0-1). Rebs: 25 (Greene 6). Assists: 9 (Price 5).
Devonte Grundy 34, L.J. Cowherd 14, Andrew Gordon 7, Keanu Young 7, Seivon Schooling 6, Quindon Litsey 3. FG: 25-47. FT: 14-23. 3-pointers: 7-15 (Cowherd 3-4, Grundy 2-6, Young 1-2, Litsey 1-1, Jared Hickman 0-2). Rebs: 26 (Grundy 10). Assists: 8 (Cowherd 3).
UP NEXT: John Hardin plays at Central Hardin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org