LaRue County’s game plan was pretty simple.
“Bardstown didn’t make a concentrated effort to get the ball down low,” Elizabethtown coach James Haire said of last Friday’s 88-83 home win over the Tigers. “This was a concentrated effort to come down and pound it, pound it, pound it, which I would have done the same thing. They did a good job of taking advantage of their strengths and our weaknesses.”
The Hawks continually found seniors Anthony Adkins (6-foot-4), Daillis Cox (6-4) and juniors Mark Goode (6-6) — especially in the second and third quarters — to the tune of a 28-for-35 shooting performance inside the arc and a 77-60 victory over the Panthers on Corky Cox Court.
“That’s been our main emphasis, to pound it inside,” said Cox, who had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, four assists, three blocked shots and three steals. “Coach preaches that every day and we try to follow his game plan and try to execute it.”
Goode finished with 21 points on 8-of-12 from the floor, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two assists.
“We had a huge size advantage, they have good guard play, so that’s where our advantage was and that’s what we did to take advantage of our advantage,” he said. “We play pretty good in third quarters usually, and it’s been like that all year. We did the same thing tonight. We came out and took care of the ball and got it where it needed to go.”
It was 17-17 after eight minutes as Elizabethtown sophomore Camden Williams scored 13 of his 19 points in the period.
Teammate and fellow sophomore Jaquias Franklin buried in 10 of his 22 in the second quarter and the Hawks held a 37-34 lead at halftime.
“That was the biggest two points of emphasis at halftime was to stop their two best players,” said LaRue County senior guard Noah Davis, who had 14 points in 5-of-6 shooting (1-of-2 from 3). “Jaquias and Cam are good players and sometimes they’re gonna get theirs. I think the second half we came out better in our 1-3-1 and 2-3 and we did a better job on those two guys in the second half.”
Franklin had eight points in the second half and Williams four.
“The biggest thing tonight was not go for their pump fakes,” Davis said. “We’ve been working on closeouts a low. We’re a defensive-oriented team. E’town can shoot it and dribble well. I think we met the challenge and played good defense.”
LaRue County outscored Elizabethtown 41-27 during the middle two quarters.
The Panthers (13-12) entered the contest having won 3-of-4, scoring an average of 81.5 points per game.
“I think in the first half we did very well, we rotated our defense well — in the second half we didn’t and I don’t know why,” Haire said. “We did a little fly-by defense and it doesn’t work.
“We came out and didn’t execute offensively which led to some easy baskets for them. That was right off the bat.”
After a 71-67 loss to Central Hardin on Jan. 26, the Hawks (22-4) are 6-0 with wins by 14, 17 and 21 points and the other three averaging 42-point margins.
“Before the game, we really made an emphasis on getting the ball down low,” Hawks veteran coach Paul Childress said. “It’s something we really have worked on here at the end of the year, even against zone — teaching out guards to be patient, changing sides of the floor with the ball until we get a good entry. Our bigs did a good job passing, high-lows tonight. If we have that advantage, we definitely want to use it.
“Coach Haire’s done a great job as always developing his team through the season. He’s got some great, young guards. We knew coming in it was gonna be a challenge for us guarding them on the perimeter. In the second half we tried to switch up our defenses a little bit and extend out and make them make some passes and not give them as many driving lanes. We were able to do that.”
Both teams have one game left before heading into their respective district tournaments.
Elizabethtown plays rival Central Hardin in the 17th District Tournament at 8 p.m. Feb. 21 inside the Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium.
“Central Hardin doesn’t play like that,” Haire said. “They’re bigger than we are, too. We have to come out and play better defense. When things go back we have a lack of leadership to change it around, and that’s what I’ve been preaching all year. When things are bad, they don’t have to stay bad. You’ve got to be able to change it around. We don’t do that right now.” LaRue County, the top seed in the 18th District, meets Caverna at Hart County at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 20.
“We have to cut down on turnovers. We still have too many turnovers,” Goode said. “If we limit those, I think we’ll be hard to beat.”
LaRue County had 19 Tuesday evening.
LARUE COUNTY 77, ELIZABETHTOWN 60
Elizabethtown 17 14 13 16—60
LaRue County 17 20 21 19—77
Jaquias Franklin 22, Camden Williams 19, Myles Fields 8, Kam Sherrard 6, Jacob Moberly 3, Khia Sherrard 2. FG: 19-44; FT: 7-12. 3-pointers: 5-22 (Franklin 3, Williams, Moberly.
LaRue County (22-4)
Mark Goode 21, Noah Davis 12, Dailliss Cox 12, Anthony Adkins 12, Jeremiah Belton 8, Chase Childress 6, Keaton Puckett 4. FG: 28-35. FT: 12-15. 3-pointers: 3-7 (Childress 2-4, Davis 1-2, Belton 0-1).
UP NEXT: LaRue County plays at Warren Central at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Elizabethtown plays at Bullitt East at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.