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With scouts in Hodgenville on Tuesday night from three NCAA Division-I schools and one NAIA program looking for future stars, the area’s top prep girls’ player of the present gave them plenty of reasons to consider her.
North Hardin senior forward Chanel Roberts, the reigning Area Player of the Year, had game-highs in points (28) and rebounds (15) and three assists as the visiting Lady Trojans ended the LaRue County Lady Hawks’ unbeaten start, 62-48.
“She was the best player on the floor and she played like it,” said second-year North Hardin coach Chris Corder. “I don’t think she gets the credit sometimes that she deserves, although I try to make sure she gets it, but she put us on her back tonight and carried us.”
With coaches from Belmont, Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State and St. Catharine looking on — presumably to get a glimpse of LaRue County’s tandem of junior wing Ivy Brown and sophomore guard Alexis Brewer — Roberts gave reason to divert their attention.
Roberts scored North Hardin’s first six points and had 15 in the final 6:52 while playing with four fouls after picking up a technical foul.
The short temper tantrum did little to take away from the positive impression Roberts had already left on fifth-year LaRue County coach Travis Wootton.
“She was a dog tonight, wasn’t she? She really got after it,” Wootton said. “She gets a bad rap. Some people say she has a bad attitude, but I think she just plays with an attitude to win when she’s on the floor. I would love to have someone who plays with that type of attitude because she ripped us tonight.”
She did get some help.
Freshman guard Tamiah Stanford, who played little in the first half because of two fouls, finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Domeneque Taft added eight points and two rebounds, while junior guard Kiera Jones had seven points and two rebounds. Junior forward Morgan Barrick and her senior backup, Brianna Edmunds, combined for 10 points and seven rebounds.
“We know what Chanel’s capable of and we’re real glad she’s on our team,” said Jones, who had a game-high five assists. “But we also know one player can’t do it all, so we all have to help Chanel out by playing as a team.”
North Hardin (5-1) struggled early, committing back-to-back backcourt turnovers and avoiding a third when Corder called a timeout. The struggles led to the Lady Trojans being tied or playing from behind the first 6:44.
“I don’t think we got rattled, but we were trying to push it all the time and not playing smart like we should have,” Jones said.
North Hardin didn’t trail after Taft made the second of two free throws with 2:25 left in the first quarter to tie the score at 9.
The Lady Trojans led the final 25:16 after a baseline drive by Stanford.
“She still kept her head on straight and played smart,” Roberts said of Stanford. “She did her thing and I hope she continues to do that for us.”
North Hardin continued with its solid play, leading by 15 in the first half and took its largest lead of the game at 43-27 with 59 seconds left in the third quarter after Stanford broke the Lady Hawks’ press and made a layup.
“Our effort is off the charts right now. We’re playing so hard that it’s hard to find fault with them,” Corder said. “Now we may not always execute, but it’s not from a lack of effort.”
LaRue County rallied behind Brewer, whose spin move and basket in the lane cut the Lady Hawks’ deficit to 53-48 with 2:54 left.
“We started playing a little passive, which is not the way we need to play,” said Corder, who called his third timeout of the quarter after Brewer’s big play. “We need to stay after it.”
Roberts sure did, scoring seven of North Hardin’s nine points in the final 2:45.
“It was important for us to hold on,” Roberts said. “I think a lot of people thought we wouldn’t come in here and win this game.”
Although she had the flu over the weekend, Brewer made 7-of-9 free throws en route to a team-high 23 points. Senior guard Haley Holt, who was also sick, added 13 points and six rebounds. Brown closed in on a double-double (eight points, nine rebounds) before fouling out.
“Obviously they’re a tough team and this was a tough test for us,” Wootton said. “At times we passed the test, but at times we failed. We’ve just got to get tougher and more physical.”
NORTH HARDIN 62, LARUE COUNTY 48
North Hardin 11 22 10 19—62
LaRue County 9 14 8 17—48
North Hardin (5-1)
Chanel Roberts 28, Tamiah Stanford 9, Domeneque Taft 8, Kiera Jones 7, Brianna Edmunds 6, Morgan Barrick 4. FG: 24-47. FT: 11-23. 3-pointers: 3-11 (Jones 2-5, Taft 1-4, Zakayshia Pass 0-1, Roberts 0-1). Rebs: 35 (Roberts 15, Stanford 7). Assists: 11 (Jones 5, Roberts 3).
LaRue County (3-1)
Alexis Brewer 23, Haley Holt 13, Ivy Brown 8, Alisha Durbin 2, Alley Evans 2. FG: 16-50. FT: 14-26. Rebs: 38. 3-pointers: 2-6 (Brewer 2-4, Brown 0-1, Holt 0-1). Assists: 7 (Evans 4, Brown 2).
UP NEXT: North Hardin plays at John Hardin at 6 p.m. Friday. LaRue County hosts Caverna at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at (270) 505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.