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HORSECAVE – After playing so well to start the fourth quarter, the LaRue County Hawks were left to wonder what might have been had they not dug so big of a hole Friday night.
Second-seeded LaRue County trailed the top-seeded Green County Dragons by 25 late in the third quarter and rallied to within single digits, but the deficit was too great to dig out of in an 85-68 loss in the Boys’ 18th District Tournament title game at Caverna.
“We got into a hole in the first half, and you just have to credit Green County,” said junior guard Micah Wiseman, who led the Hawks with 23 points and six rebounds. “They knocked shots down. We just kept fighting, but we ran out of time and out of gas.”
The defeat also ended the Hawks’ run of five straight district titles, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
Green County shot 50 percent (24-of-48) from the floor, 60 percent (9-of-15) from the 3-point line and 78 percent (28-of-36) from the foul line to post the most points against LaRue County since East Jessamine hung 87 on the Hawks on Dec. 21, 2011 – a span of 82 games.
“They were just making shots, and we were coming down on the other end getting a little anxious,” LaRue County coach Paul Childress said. “I think we were trying to get it all back in one possession. We got a little rattled, and it kind of snowballed.”
Leading 13-11 after the first quarter, LaRue County (16-13) watched Green County (18-11) hit five 3s in the first 5 minutes of the second as part of a 22-5 run.
“They were hitting shots,” junior forward Caleb Sheffer said, “but we weren’t doing all of the things we needed to do offensively and defensively.”
It got even worse for the Hawks in the third quarter.
Dragons junior guard Colton Bush, who scored a game-high 32 points, canned a 3 just 19 seconds in before senior guard Jayden Willis added another 44 seconds later for a 43-26 advantage.
An 8-0 run later in the quarter bumped Green County’s lead to 59-34 with 1:33 left in the third.
“We went 2-for-16 from 3, and that’s a bad combination when they don’t miss and you don’t hit anything,” Wiseman said.
The Hawks, though, regrouped.
Wiseman made two free throws and senior guard Michael Neal’s steal and layup narrowed the gap to 21 going into the fourth quarter. The Hawks then scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter, pulling within 59-49 with 6:33 left in the game on Sheffer’s three-point play.
“We picked our intensity up, and I think we just stopped thinking and started playing,” Childress said. “I think (Green County) got a little tight and were trying not to make mistakes, and you know how that goes.”
LaRue County just couldn’t get over the hump, however, closing within nine on Wiseman’s layup with 2:06 to play, but that was as close as it would get.
The Hawks made their final 15 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished 26-of-28 from the line overall.
It was the third time Green County has beat LaRue County his season.
“It definitely wasn’t our best game,” Childress said, “but they just kind of had our number this year.”
Senior forward Tyler Howell, who had nine points, made the All-Tournament Team along with Wiseman and Sheffer. Howell and senior guard Kody Key-Close were named to the All-District regular season squad.
LaRue County now must await the draw for the Boys’ 5th Region Tournament today to see who it will play this week at Marion County.
“We just have to come ready to play next week because it’s win or go home,” Sheffer said. “We’re not ready for the season to be over yet.”
GREEN COUNTY 85, LARUE COUNTY 68
LaRue County 13 13 12 30—68
Green County 11 26 22 26—85
LaRue County (16-13)
Micah Wiseman 23, Caleb Sheffer 21, Tyler Howell 9, Kody Key-Close 7, Michael Neal 4, Thomas Harman 2, Cameron Dawson 2. FG: 20-30. FT: 26-28. 3-pointers: 2-16 (Wiseman 2-8, Key-Close 0-4, Dawson 0-2, Sheffer 0-1, Harman 0-1). Rebs: 25 (Wiseman 6). Assists: 10 (Harman 3). Steals: 9 (Wiseman 2, Harman 2).
Green County (18-11)
Colton Bush 32, Dominique Compton 25, Jayden Willis 18, Justice Bishop 3, Kenneth Banks3, Levi Murphy 2, Corbin Suratt 2. FG: 24-48. FT: 28-36. 3-pointers: 9-15 (Bush 4-8, Compton 3-3, Willis 2-4). Rebs: 30 (Compton 8, Bishop 8). Assists: 15 (Willis 6). Steals: 13 (Willis 4).
Ryan O’Gara can be reached at 270-505-1754 or firstname.lastname@example.org.