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After blowing one double-digit lead, Andy Kerr and the Central Hardin Bruins were in no mood for déjà vu Friday night.
A senior point guard, Kerr scored all 13 of his points in the final 6:52 as the Bruins beat the poor-shooting Elizabethtown Panthers, 63-56 at Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium in both teams’ 17th District opener.
Central Hardin (3-1) trailed for only 27 seconds. After Elizabethtown (1-2) tied the score at 2-2 on a jumper by sophomore center Zane Najdawi, the Bruins reeled off a 6-0 run and stretched their lead to 25-15 with 3:08 left in the second quarter as senior guard Troy Squires buried a 3-pointer after a drive-and-dish pass to the right corner from senior wing Alex Crowder.
Elizabethtown trailed by six with less than 3 minutes to play in the third quarter before taking its first – and only – lead at 39-37 with 7:19 left in the game on a basket in the lane by Najdawi, who finished with a double-double (11 points, game-high 11 rebounds).
Kerr, who was scoreless at the time, buried an open 3-pointer on a kickout from Squires with 6:52 remaining to give the Bruins the lead for good at 40-39. The shot ignited a 14-0 run in 3:44 that gave the Bruins their largest lead at 51-39. The run ended as Kerr hit a 3-pointer on another drive-and-dish from Squires.
Crowder, who also had six rebounds, matched Elizabethtown junior guard Nic McDonald with a game-high 15 points. Squires added 10 points and two assists, while senior forward Cody Elmore had seven points, eight rebounds and a game-high five assists. Junior forward Dillon Glenn chipped in with seven points and six rebounds off the bench.
McDonald scored all but three of his points in the final 11 minutes for the Panthers, who had beaten the Bruins in 6-of-7 previous meetings, including three straight at Charlie Rawlings. It was the Bruins’ first road win against the Panthers since Dec. 12, 2008.
Sophomore forward Zach Patterson added six points and seven rebounds for the shorthanded Panthers, who were without injured seniors Chas Jones and Josh Williams. Reserve junior guard Ryan Harris chipped in with eight points, matching Kerr with a game-high two 3-pointers.
Elizabethtown, which missed eight of its first nine shots, finished 19-of-54 from the field. The Panthers missed 22-of-28 attempts from the arc.
The teams combined for 27 first-half fouls, but the Bruins didn’t help themselves much at the foul line, barely making more than 50 percent (15-of-29). Central Hardin’s scoring output was its best in the teams’ last 10 meetings.
UP NEXT: Central Hardin hosts John Hardin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Elizabethtown hosts Grayson County at 8 p.m. Monday.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.