PREP BASKETBALL: Bruins, Bulldogs battle tonight (01/08)

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By John Groth

The Central Hardin Bruins have struggled to keep Daveon Greene from overwhelming them on the glass.

Over the last two seasons, the John Hardin senior forward has turned in some noteworthy monster performances – with the last one possibly his most ferocious.

On Dec. 11, Greene scored 26 points, going 12-of-13 from the field, and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds – five less than the Bruins’ entire team in a 75-56 victory.

Bulldogs coach Mark Wells acknowledged Greene just takes advantage of Central Hardin’s defensive scheme.

“Central plays zone and it’s more difficult to rebound in zone than man-to-man,” Wells said. “No one is specifically boxing or blocking him (Greene) out. He’s able to move around and do so and able to get a lot more rebounds.”

The teams meet again at 7:30 tonight as Central Hardin (7-5, 2-2 district) visits John Hardin (11-3, 3-0).

After suffering a 56-54 overtime loss in last season’s district opener, the Bulldogs haven’t let Central Hardin surprise them again – taking three straight – including the last two by double digits.

In December, John Hardin led by only two points at halftime before Greene and senior guard Brandon Price took over in the second half. Wells said Price, who has missed the last three games with an ankle injury but was cleared to practice Monday, will be a game-time decision.

“The first half of the first game we did not do a very good job of getting him (Greene) the basketball,” Wells said. “We went into halftime and made some adjustments and made it a point of emphasis in the second half.”

Wright acknowledged the Bruins didn’t block Greene out well enough and gave him too many putback opportunities, especially in the second half.

Since transferring from Ohio two years ago, Greene has been a major factor in all four games against Central Hardin. He scored at least 13 points in each matchup and recorded double-doubles in three.

“We need to limit his second-chance opportunities, as well as others. Everybody else seems to be playing well together,” Wright said. “They’re attacking the basket so well. We need to concentrate on Daveon in the paint, but they also have four other guys who crash the boards pretty hard.”

The Bruins come in with some confidence after pulling out a 60-59 victory over Elizabethtown on Friday night to avoid their first losing streak this season. They limited the Panthers’ inside tandem of sophomore Zane Najdawi and junior Dominique Harding to just eight points each, though both were plagued with foul trouble. Najdawi had 11 rebounds and scored six points in the final 3 minutes of the game.

Turnovers were troubling, however. Central Hardin committed 16, with 11 coming in the second half and two in the final 25 seconds to keep giving the Panthers chances to win.

“We need to be stronger with the ball. They need to play with heir heads up more and just be confident,” Wright said. “We didn’t make some good decisions down the stretch against E’town. We need make better efforts to get to the ball, screen and get open.”

The Panthers (8-3, 1-2) area also in action at 7:30 tonight as they host district rival North Hardin (12-5, 3-1) for the first time this season.

Elizabethtown defeated Fort Knox on Monday night to earn its first district win. The Trojans enter on a three-game winning streak, their last two coming at district foes Central Hardin (57-54 on Wednesday) and Fort Knox (81-36 on Friday). North Hardin has won 6-of-7.

The Trojans ended a three-game losing streak to Elizabethtown last season, defeating the Panthers 61-58 in the district tournament semifinals.

Panthers coach James Haire thinks the Trojans pose a couple of dangerous threats, including their outside shooting and quick hands on defense.

“They’ve got at least three guys that can shoot the 3 very well. They have good ballhandlers,” he said. “I really like the big kid in the middle (Tyler Landry). I think he’s really improved. They have some quickness.”

Haire said junior guard Nic McDonald (toe injury) likely won’t play tonight and doesn’t know when he’ll return. Junior forward Ja’Von Cotton has stepped up his scoring, totaling 20 or more points in each of the last two games. But Haire said the team is still lacking in other areas.

 “I know what hustle looks like. I know what true aggression looks like. I don’t see it all the time,” Haire said. “We’ll see. We’re just trying to improve.”

Other boys’ games tonight include Louisville Holy Angels at North Hardin Christian at 6:30, Fort Knox at Thomas Nelson at 7:30, LaRue County at Adair County at 8 and Hancock County at Meade County in an 11th District matchup at 8.

Fort Knox and Thomas Nelson meet at 6 tonight in a girls’ game.

John Groth can be reached at (270) 505-1754 or jgroth@thenewsenterprise.com.