Devon Rogers is no stranger to playing down the road in Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium. The John Hardin junior also is no stranger to working on his free throw shooting.
This came in handy for the Bulldogs when Rogers stepped up to the line with his team down 67-66 with under five seconds to play.
“It wasn’t really pressure, because I practice those every day before practice and after practice,” Rogers said of his free throw shooting. “So it’s just about me transferring what I did at practice to the game.”
That practice transferred into two more points for the Bulldogs to seal a 68-67 season opening road win over No. 6 Elizabethtown Tuesday night.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect coming in. We weren’t in the best of shape after the second quarter and with the restrictions we have in place, it’s just hard to put in a game atmosphere, because we can’t in practice,” John Hardin coach Jared McCurry said. “We weren’t very tough, we were a little soft in the first half and came out a little tougher in the second half and didn’t shy down. They made plays when we needed them.”
McCurry said his team’s ability to pick up rebounds was key to staying in the game and finishing on top. He added the team needed to work on reducing its turnovers moving forward as well.
“We had some guys step up and get some boards. AJ Doctor did an unbelievable job, (Jalen Tyus) started being more aggressive. All our guards, (Rogers) made some big plays, (Anthony Bowen) did,” McCurry said. “We’ve gotta take care of the ball better. If you turn it over, it’s two points for E’town every time and we had too many of those.”
A close game throughout with multiple lead changes, Elizabethtown had remained in front by the end of each of the first three quarters before falling behind in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
This was the Panthers’ first loss of the season after winning their first two games last week over DeSales and Taylor County.
“I thought our effort wasn’t very good. I thought that they outplayed us, just about the entire night,” Elizabethtown coach James Haire said. “They got 50-50 balls, they had more energy than we did. We just did not come ready to play.”
The Bulldogs opened things up with an early first-quarter lead, before a three-pointer from Jaquais Franklin put the Panthers up 15-14. Elizabethtown held on and finished the first quarter with a 19-16 lead.
The game remained close in the second quarter, with multiple lead changes as the two teams traded shots.
After Rogers put John Hardin back in front at 29-28 off a three-pointer, Elizabethtown responded with a tre of its own courtesy of Jacob Moberly to turn it into a 31-29 Panther advantage. Elizabethtown didn’t give up the lead again and went into halftime ahead 39-33.
The game remained close in the third quarter, with John Hardin continuing to keep right with the Panthers until a pair of free throws from Doctor briefly put the Bulldogs up 54-53. The lead change didn’t last long and Elizabethtown again found itself in control by the quarter’s close at 57-54.
After opening the fourth quarter with a game-tying three-point shot from Tyus, John Hardin found itself again trailing the Panthers.
The back-and-forth lead changes of earlier returned as the fourth quarter wound down. After a bucket from Tyus put the Bulldogs up 66-65, a pair of free throws from Alandre Murphy put Elizabethtown back in control at 67-66 with 14 seconds to play.
The Bulldogs would be the ones with the last chance at the line, with Rogers’s free throws putting John Hardin back in front in the game’s final seconds to seal the win.
“It was a good game for us to get out here and play, because now we’ve got a lot of things we need to work on,” McCurry said. “We know now and we’re gonna go work on those.”
John Hardin (1-0) travels to Radcliff Friday for a 7:30 p.m. game at North Hardin. Elizabethtown (2-1) travels to Marion County on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. matchup with the Knights.
JOHN HARDIN 68, ELIZABETHTOWN 67
Elizabethtown 19 20 18 10- 67
John Hardin 16 17 21 14- 68
Elizabethtown: Franklin 20, Kh. Sherrard 17, Murphy 12, Williams 11, Ka. Sherrard 4, Moberly 3.
John Hardin: Tyus 25, Rogers 13, Doctor 12, Bowen 8, Williams 5, Barnes 3, Owens 2