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Playing arguably the most complete game of their first season in 31 years, the Elizabethtown Community & Technical College Barons made history Wednesday night at T.K. Stone Middle School.
Fueled by strong play from each member of their backcourt quartet, the Barons trailed for all of 44 seconds en route to a 74-48 pounding of the NAIA Campbellsville University Tigers’ junior varsity team.
“The team came out tonight with intensity and a commitment to win,” said Barons coach John Veague, whose team scored more than half (38) of its points in the paint and turned 16 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points in its second victory over Campbellsville. “Our offensive rebounds were really something we needed to get better at after having only five last game (in a 73-66 home loss last week against Southern Tech Academy of Charlotte). This was a much-needed victory for the team and the great Baron fans that support us.”
The Barons completed a regular-season sweep of the Tigers, having beaten them on the road Nov. 6, 62-57.
“That was our first complete game,” Barons reserve shooting guard Derek Pfeiffer said of Wednesday’s performance. “We’re really starting to come together.”
The backcourt looked pretty complete Wednesday.
Barons starting point guard Cody Crim (Central Hardin High School alum) scored a game-high 15 points, while back-up point guard Jerrell Mitchell (Elizabethtown) added three assists, a game-high four steals and a season-high 12 points.
“Tonight I felt like we came out here and played as a team as everyone did their job and scored points,” Mitchell said.
ECTC starting shooting guard Avery Buckles (Elizabethtown Christian Academy/home school) added seven rebounds, five points and two assists, while Pfeiffer (Elizabethtown) had four rebounds, three steals and a season-high 12 points.
“It was a good win for us and I think we played pretty well as a team tonight,” said Buckles, whose team has won 3-of-5 after a 1-4 start. “We wanted to get a home win for our fans and the community.”
The foursome combined for 10 assists and eight steals while totaling just two turnovers.
“We were all over the place tonight,” said Crim, who has hit multiple 3s in four straight games. “We have been focusing on our defense and we figured our defense would turn into offense.”
The Barons got some pretty decent play from their five-member frontcourt, too. Starting power forward Chris McDonald (Elizabethtown) finished with a double-double (13 points, game-high 11 rebounds) despite not attempting a shot in the opening 9 minutes. Starting small forward Austin Geer (Central Hardin) had seven points and three rebounds and starting center Rob Pittman (Washington, Ind.), a transfer from Spalding University, had five points, five rebounds and a game-high four blocks.
“Everyone on the team contributed in a good way,” said McDonald, the Barons’ leading scorer. “No one forced anything, no one took plays off and everyone hustled.”
The Barons took the lead for good just 48 seconds into the game after Crim found Geer for an open 3-pointer.
All nine Barons found the scoring column after reserve center Aaron Butterworth (Central Hardin) put back a Geer 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the game to put the Barons up 71-43, matching their largest lead at 28 points.
Campbellsville shot just 35 percent from the field as the Barons set a season best for fewest points allowed. Starting sophomore center Thomas Ball (Berlin, Germany) posted a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) to lead the Tigers, while starting freshman guard Brandon Fruth (Montgomery County) matched him with 12 points.
The victory was technically the Barons’ first at home in more than 30 years. There should be an asterisk to that fact, though, as the Barons disbanded their program after the 1980-81 season before reviving it this past summer. ECTC’s last home win before Wednesday was a five-point victory over Lindsey Wilson College in February 1981.
“It was great to give our home fans a win,” said Roman Ritchey, an ex-LaRue County High School star and a former News-Enterprise Area Player of the Year honoree. “They have shown this team so much support and it truly helps to have the community behind us.”
The Barons were 0-3 at home before Wednesday, losing 69-58 to the Georgetown College JVs on Nov. 3, falling 67-65 to West Kentucky C&TC on Nov. 9 and the aforementioned loss to Southern Tech.
“I am really pleased with the way these players are representing the college and am also pleased with the fan support,” said Dr. Dale Buckles, the school’s chief student affairs officer and a former Barons coach. “People are really enjoying watching this team. The players play hard – they are now playing well together and I can see a sense of unity with them. Supporting the Barons is a great inexpensive way to spend an evening.”
UP NEXT: The ECTC Barons (4-6) play at 7 p.m. Monday on the road against the Asbury University Eagles’ JVs (4-0).
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or email@example.com