A Central Hardin second quarter surge set the tone for the remainder of the game as the Bruins beat the Eagles 77-41.
After a close first quarter Friday night that was tighter than the 20-8 score might indicate, it looked like Fort Knox was going to be able to hang tough with Central Hardin.
The Bruins’ three-point shooting would say otherwise and, as the second quarter was under way, it began to look like Central Hardin would pull away.
The Bruins would go on a 29-15 run in the second period, led by junior Brett Decker.
“We were just trying to not get too over-hyped on the score, keep our heads down and keep going,” Decker said. “Our defense definitely helped that run.”
The Bruins’ defense in fact did contribute to their run, forcing multiple turnovers from Fort Knox.
“We have to recognize when the ball handler is in trouble and work on going to them to help instead of just standing there and watching,” said Fort Knox head coach Kip Rambo. “That’s been our problem all year. We’ve been able to hang with teams in terms of rebounding, but the turnovers have really hurt us this year.”
Fort Knox had 29 total turnovers Friday night compared to Central Hardin’s 11.
“We got into foul trouble with our key players in the first half so we sat them down in an effort to try and protect them for later in the game,” Rambo said. “Missing those key players messed with our execution and caused us to turn the ball over more.”
Central Hardin had 19 steals on the night, with a decent portion of those coming in their second quarter charge.
With about 7 minutes in the first half to go, Decker would catch fire from deep, knocking down three straight shots from beyond the arc. He would end the quarter with five threes, making up 15 of his 27 points for the night.
“Offensively, he’s off the charts,” Central Hardin head coach Matt Nickell said. “You feel like every shot he takes seems to go in.”
Decker ended the night on 9 of 13 shooting for 69% from the field along with going a perfect 5 for 5 from deep.
“He’s worked really hard to get his play to a high level,” Nickell said. “I think he’s there now.”
Central Hardin had other reasons to celebrate Friday night besides their emphatic win. Third in scoring for the Bruins’ was Jett Williams, who stood out on the night as the fan favorite.
Williams, a senior transfer from Elizabethtown, has had his eligibility in question this season. As a result, Williams has missed 19 games of his senior season. The game Friday night was his first game back, and he did not let the debut go to waste.
Williams scored 11 points on the night with 9 of those coming from distance. He was making his mark penetrating into the paint, and late in the game hit a highlight-worthy step-back three after a clever behind the back move.
“I thought we attacked well in the first half,” Nickell said. “We could’ve shot better, but we hit spurts where offensively it was good. I thought we shared the ball well, too.”
The Central Hardin scoring load was spread throughout the whole team with the Bruins’ having 10 different scorers.
Decker led the way on the night followed by his backcourt pairing of junior Ace Jaggers, who provided 14 points. Williams was third in scoring with 11, helped on by freshman Camdyn Hogan and senior Jakob Fredrickson each getting 5.
Other scorers included senior Nolan Stith, freshman Carson Nichols, and junior Caden Elmore all posting 4 points, as well as junior Riccardo Terenghi and senior Brayden Robbins notching 2 and 1 points respectively.
Central Hardin out rebounded Fort Knox 28-26 and were paced on the boards by Terenhgi who grabbed 5 off the glass. Other top rebounders for Central include Decker with 4 along with Fredrickson and Jaggers both with 3.
On the other side of Friday night’s matchup, Fort Knox was once again ushered by senior Allston Leggette’s scoring.
“When he plays well, good things happen for us,” Rambo said about Leggette. “He’s pretty close to averaging a double-double this year if he’s not already, and I think he’s developed into a real nice ball player.”
Leggette finished with 16 points on 50% shooting along with going 4 for 5 from the free-throw line. Leggette has scored in double-figures for 12 of the Eagles’ 14 games this year with his season-high of 25 points coming Dec. 30 against LKY (Louisville homeschool).
Other scorers for Fort Knox were sophomore Anthony Casey with 7, senior Maurice Bonner getting 5, and sophomore Clarence Brown scoring 4. Sophomores Shemar ward and Chris Taylor, and Dereon McNulty all had 2 points as well as junior Isa Williams contributing 2 points.
The Eagles were led on the glass by Ward and Williams who each collected 4 boards. They were followed by Bonner, Leggette, senior Orlando Silva-Warren, and senior Morel Enzo Zohoun, who all snagged 3 rebounds.
Concluding Friday night, Fort Knox have moved to 4-11 overall and 1-4 within the district. Central Hardin jumped to 12-8 overall and 4-2 in the district.
Fort Knox looks to get back into the win column at 7:30 p.m. Monday when they take on Portland Christian (2-13).
Central Hardin lost Saturday afternoon to Eastern (12-6), 65-63, in the Nathan McCurry Classic at John Hardin. The Bruins will try for another win at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Marion County (1-16).
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