HALL OF FAME
Eagles snap long winless streak v. Tigers
February 3, 2012Bardstown High School
Bethlehem used hot shooting and solid rebounding Tuesday night to score a 55-36 upset of visiting Bardstown, snatching away the top seed in the 19th District tournament in the process.The win snapped Bardstown’s 12-game winning streak in the series; the last Bethlehem win was a 59-54 decision in the 2007 19th District tournament.
“It’s always nice beating district opponents — it’s just a great feeling,” Eagle senior Thomas Mudd said.
The Tigers and Eagles have just one loss apiece in district play, but the second game serves as the tiebreaker for district seeding purposes. Bardstown topped Bethlehem 64-61 in the teams’ first meeting at Bardstown, and the Tigers won 69-35 just two weeks ago in the 5th Region All A Classic. Bethlehem’s district slate is finished at 5-1, while Bardstown is 4-1 with its district finale coming tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Nelson County (6-15, 1-4 dist.) in a girls-boys doubleheader. The girls’ game tips off at 6 p.m.
Mudd led the way early for Bethlehem, hitting a pair of threes during a first quarter that saw him score 10 of his team’s 12 points. He finished with 16 of his game-high 18 in the first half as the Eagles (16-4) staked a 26-16 halftime lead, helping Bethlehem take advantage of a tired Bardstown team playing its sixth game in eight days and coming off a heartbreaking last-second loss in the All A Classic championship Sunday.
Bardstown coach James “Boo” Brewer said he didn’t want to make excuses for the loss, noting that Bethlehem was just the better team that night.
“Tired or not tired, you still have to go out and play,” he said. “It doesn’t make us or break us — our season’s not over with. … My guys are tough. They’ll be back.”
Mudd hit 6-of-9 shots from the field — including 2-for-3 on three-pointers — and knocked down all four of his free throws in the win.
“That’s the senior in him finally coming out in big ballgames, playing under control and doing what you’re supposed to do,” Bethlehem coach Artie Braden said of Mudd. “That’s what you expect out of your seniors.”
Mudd said the team doesn’t worry too much about who does the scoring. It was just his turn that night.
“To tell you the truth, it was the defense that set the tone for us,” he said. “Usually when we come out hard on defense it fuels our offense.”
The Tigers (18-8) switched things defensively in the second half, putting ace defender Jordan Brewer on Mudd. But while Mudd was under wraps, other people got involved.
“He was playing good defense on me, but it did leave open spaces for cuts and spread the floor out more,” Mudd said.
Jalen Phillips, back after missing several weeks with a broken wrist, was one of those beneficiaries, scoring all 10 of his points after halftime, and Jacob Browning and Harrison Rogers had six points apiece after the break.
The Tigers — who debuted at No. 17 in the state Monday in the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Cantrall Ratings — hung around, and were down 48-36 after a pair of Brewer free throws with 1:43 left to play, but the Eagles scored the last seven points of the game.
Braden said revenge for the 34-point drubbing in the All A Classic wasn’t a motivating factor for his bunch.
“They wanted to prove they can play basketball, and I think they proved tonight they can play against the elite teams in the state and Bardstown’s certainly one of them,” he said.
It was Phillips’ second game back after his injury. Eagle guard Jordan Cooper missed all of the 2011 portion of the schedule while coming back from a knee injury, and Braden said it was nice to finally have a full complement of players for a change.
“It’s been so long since we were able to do that, we didn’t know exactly how the rotation was going to play out tonight,” Braden said. “They all, when they got their chance, did a good job.”
Bethlehem hit 18-of-36 from the field (50 percent) and 3-for-9 on threes, while holding Bardstown to 14-for-41 shooting (34 percent), including 4-of-23 on three-point tries. The Eagles outscored the Tigers 16-4 from the free throw line and enjoyed a 28-25 advantage rebounding and forced 17 Bardstown turnovers while committing 14.
Brewer led Bardstown with 12 points. The Eagles are in action Saturday at Green County (4-19).
Courtesy of Pete W. Zubaty, The Kentucky Standard