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After a tumultuous start, the LaRue County Hawks seem to have started to put things together.
They just wrapped up playing in the Capital City Invitational at Frankfort Western Hills, where the team recorded a runner-up finish. Coach Paul Childress thought it was a positive tournament which helped develop their teamwork. He hopes that doesn’t disappear during their National Guard Holiday Classic, which begins this afternoon.
“It’s a collective effort right now … We’re doing a better job of playing and not thinking,” Childress said. “It’s giving us a little bit more – especially a flow on offense. We’re not standing around thinking about making mistakes, thinking about making plays. Guys are stepping up and doing that right now.”
And if the Hawks keep playing together, they could move above the .500 mark this week for the first time all season.
Louisville DeSales (6-4) meets Washington County (2-8) at 3 p.m. in the opening game of classic, now in its seventh year. Thomas Nelson (1-10) takes on Caverna (9-2) at 4:30 p.m. LaRue County (4-5) faces Louisville Shawnee (0-11) at 6:30 p.m., while Carroll County (6-3) plays Crittenden County (6-6) at 8 p.m.
With Crittenden County getting 6 inches of snow Wednesday, Washington County and Crittenden County had to switch brackets, Childress said.
Since beginning 1-4 and struggling to close out games, LaRue County has won three of its last four. The Hawks drubbed Campbellsville, 85-45 Dec. 17 at home before knocking off Western Hills and Henry County by double-digits in the Capital City Invitational last week. Their winning streak ended with a 53-38 loss to Louisville Doss in the Capital City Invitational championship game.
Ford scored 98 points during that stretch. He totaled 30 points and nine assists against Campbellsville, neared a quadruple-double (28 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and seven steals) against Western Hills and recorded 24 points, six rebounds and six assists against Henry County before just a 16-point outing against Doss.
Although he’s put up some monster numbers lately, Ford has had help.
Junior forward Kody Key-Close reached double-digits in three of the four games, including back-to-back 20-point performances against Campbellsville and Western Hills.
“Kody is more of a low player. He’s a guy who got a lot of open shots as teams keyed on Ford, (Kyle) Sheeran and (Kyle) Meredith last year,” Childress said. “This year, he’s been asked to take on more of a scoring and leadership role. He’s starting to become more comfortable with that, evidenced in his play the last couple games.”
Junior forward Tyler Howell has also been more aggressive of late. He had nine points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks against Henry County and nine points and 12 rebounds against Doss. Childress noted his rebounding and defensive efforts have improved over the past couple of weeks.
Howell has recovered after injuring his right knee in a Dec. 7 victory at 18th District rival Hart County. He landed on the floor hard and his knee swelled up causing him to miss some of the first half before he returned in the second half. But Howell also said it’s taken him a little while to adjust to an increased role.
“I realized I had to give my team more than I was giving them at the time. I’ve been in a better flow the last four or five games,” he said. “(At the Capital City Invitational) we got to look at different lineups, develop some confidence that we needed. We got away from the crowd and things and just played basketball. We had fun together and just played it like we was capable of.”
That’s exactly the plan for this week, too.
John Groth can be reached at (270) 505-175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.