Hawks take down Bulldogs in Kentucky 2A sectional final

LaRue County’s Cutter Boley goes up to shoot over John Hardin’s Jamal Smith in the second quarter of the Kentucky 2A Section 3 final Monday night. Boley and the Hawks advanced to the Kentucky 2A state tournament in Owensboro with the win.

LaRue County boys’ basketball punched its ticket to Owensboro Monday night.

Taking on John Hardin in the boys’ Kentucky 2A Championships’ Section 3 final at Taylor County High School, the Hawks broke away from the Bulldogs and cruised to a 60-42 victory to secure a spot in the Kentucky 2A boys’ state tournament.

“Coming into the game, we just knew how athletic, fast and strong John Hardin is, so we wanted to control the tempo. I thought our guys tonight did a great job of handling the pressure, something that we’d struggled with in the past,” LaRue County coach Paul Childress said. “Our guys, I’m just so proud of them, the way they just played together tonight. They just made simple basketball plays. We shot it good, we rebounded it well. (John Hardin) struggled a little bit from the field, which kind of helped us obviously defensively, but our guys just stayed the course and stayed focused for 32 minutes. John Hardin’s a good team, so I’m proud of my guys.”

Jamal Smith put John Hardin on the board first early in the game’s opening minutes, but a 3-pointer from Luke Trumbo kicked off a 10-point LaRue County run to build up a 10-2 lead on the Bulldogs. John Hardin was able to climb back, but finished the first quarter down 17-13.

The Bulldogs continued to linger for much of the second quarter, at one point cutting the LaRue County lead to 24-23. Daniel Allen answered with a basket to put the Hawks back ahead by three, which was followed by another five points from LaRue County to close out the first half up 31-23.

The Hawks proceeded to outscore the Bulldogs 20-10 in the third quarter to build up a 51-33 advantage, helping them ultimately finish the game with an 18-point lead as well.

Following the game, Allen, Cutter Boley and Jaxson Thomas were named to the Kentucky 2A, Section 3 All-Tournament team for the Hawks.

“We haven’t really handled the pressure from John Hardin the past recent years. On the team last year, we fell a little bit short at Region, but tonight we handled the pressure really well, rebounded very well,” Allen said. “We really played a full, complete game, made some of our shots, just played really hard.”

The loss dropped John Hardin to a 10-6 overall record.

Devon Rogers and AJ Doctor were chosen to represent the Bulldogs on the All-Tournament team.

“It’s obvious we didn’t come ready to play and that’s my fault. I take full responsibility in that, because it’s my responsibility to make sure that we’re ready to play. … We had stuff, we got great shots, we just didn’t finish at the rim. When we didn’t finish at the rim, we didn’t get the offensive rebound. When we didn’t get the offensive rebound, it gave them a chance to run their fast break, get open shots and then they built a lead,” John Hardin coach Austin Jones said. “Coach Childress and them did a good job of being able to maintain that lead by not allowing us to get back in our game, making us play the half-court game and then making us work for good shots against their 2-3 zone when we were behind. We panicked, took some ill-advised shots which makes it worse. I give LaRue County credit. Their game plan worked, ours didn’t.”

Allen led the way with 16 points, just ahead of Boley with 15 points. Carson Childress followed with 13 points. Trumbo added nine points. Caden Davis recorded three points. Jaxson Thomas and Kellen Bowen both had two points.

Allen was also the team’s top rebounder with 12 total.

Smith finished the game with 12 points to lead the John Hardin scoring effort. Doctor followed with 11 points. Rogers scored eight points, just ahead of Jalen Tyus with seven points. Corey Brown had four points.

LaRue County (11-3) hosts North Hardin Classical at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The Hawks will open the Kentucky 2A state tournament against Knox Central at 5 p.m. Thursday. The tournament will be played at the Owensboro Sportscenter.

John Hardin welcomes North Hardin for a 17th District matchup at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

Matt Tyson can be reached at 270-505-1425 or mtyson@thenewsenterprise.com.

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