HALL OF FAME
Tigers stay alive, advance to SFs
March 5, 2012Bardstown High School
At this point of the season, it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks. Just whether you survive and advance.
Bardstown fought through major foul trouble Thursday to top a red-hot North Hardin club, 63-57, to advance to Monday’s boys’ 5th Region semifinals against Marion County.
“Exactly the way I drew it up — we got a W,” Bardstown coach James “Boo” Brewer said with a smile following a win that saw the Tigers outrebound the Trojans 37-30 and hit nine of 10 free throws in the final 1:26 of the game.
“Our defense won that game, and at the end free throws really won it,” Brewer said.
Bardstown improved to 24-9 and kept alive its quest for back-to-back region titles. Next up for the Tigers is a meeting at 8 p.m. Monday at Central Hardin with Marion County (20-11), who survived a 50-49 first-round win over Green County Thursday. John Hardin (20-8) and LaRue County (23-7) meet at 6 p.m. in Monday’s other semifinal. Marion County dropped a 70-50 decision at Bardstown Feb. 7. It’s the second straight year the teams will meet in the region semifinals; the Tigers won 59-31 during last year’s region championship run.
With the win, Bardstown was able to avenge a 65-52 loss at North Hardin to close out the regular season.
“We got beat by a good team,” North Hardin coach Ron Bevars said. “We didn’t have any consistency. No consistency. We didn’t quit. We kept battling, but we didn’t play consistent enough.”
That could describe their season. The Trojans (12-18) started 2-2 before suspensions and an injury to senior point guard Jermaine Ruttley derailed them. They lost 14 of their next 15 before closing the regular season with a seven-game winning streak.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Ruttley, who finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. “We thought we could run the table once we got everyone back. That’s the big thing. We thought we had a chance. But nothing is handed to you and we saw it today.”
The Tigers got off to an early 15-14 lead after one quarter, as Devonte Grundy scored six points and dished out an assist for Bardstown, the early beginnings of what would become an 18-point, 10-rebound evening.
“Devonte’s just solid every night,” Brewer said.
The Trojans committed 16 turnovers compared to only nine by Bardstown, which led to a 17-8 edge for the Tigers in points off turnovers.
“We made too many mistakes with the basketball,” Bevars said. “It’s hard to beat anybody when you give up 17 points off of turnovers.”
By the time the second quarter got going, three Bardstown starters had two fouls apiece, and North Hardin had rallied to a 21-20 lead, but the Tigers were able to fight through it and outscore the Trojans 8-2 the rest of the half, with Jordan Brewer scoring his only bucket of the game just before the buzzer to make it 28-23. By that point, the senior guard had moved over to the point to fill in for Anthony Myrks, who was saddled with foul trouble along with Justin Hubbard and Cody Ramos.
“We play an aggressive defense, so we’ve been in foul trouble a lot this year,” Jordan Brewer said. “We’ve just got to press through it.”
Bardstown stretched its lead to 39-29 less than four minutes into the second half following a Marcus Cosby three and a stickback by Drew Starks, who pitched in 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.
“It was one of those nights for us,” Ruttley said. “We weren’t ready to play. That was disappointing. But it was one of those nights where it wasn’t there for us.”
Ruttley drained a 3-pointer and then White stole a pass and added a layup to pull the Trojans within 39-34 with 3:32 remaining.
Trailing 44-37, Hendrix scored four straight points, including a dunk. After a layup by Myrks, Akins made a 17-foot jumper and Hendrix had a layup as North Hardin cut its deficit to 46-45 with 5:04 remaining.
North Hardin had a chance to take the lead but turned the ball over, which led to two free throws by Brewer. Overall, Brewer hit all eight of his free throw attempts, all in the fourth quarter.
“Free throws are very important,” he said. “It’s a crucial part of the game. You’ve just got to knock them down.”
After Ruttley made 1-of-2 free throws, Grundy was fouled and made the first free throw. He missed the second, but the Tigers came up with the rebound and led to a layup by Starks for a 51-46 lead with 3:45 left. North Hardin didn’t get closer than four the rest of the game.
“Every time we’d get close they’d make a run,” Hendrix said. “They’d get the ball in the paint for an easy shot or score off an offensive rebound. I don’t know how that happens, but we didn’t do anything about it.”
Grundy, who had two assists and five steals, said holding off a high-octane team such as the Trojans wasn’t easy, especially limiting them to just 11 offensive rebounds.
“It was pretty tough — we just played defense and stayed on them,” he said. “They’re a very good offensive rebounding team. We had to box out — everybody had to crash” the boards.
North Hardin will definitely have a different look next season. The Trojans graduate seven players —Akins, Nathaniel Bell, Sam Coachman, Hendrix, Darren Martin, Duwayne White and Ruttley.
“This is very disappointing because we thought we could challenge for the region title,” said Hendrix, who posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. “We thought Bardstown was our only real challenge, and if we could get past them, we had a good shot of going to Rupp (Arena).”
James Brewer raved about the contributions of role players such as Starks, Hubbard (7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) and Cosby, whose two baskets came at clutch times. Also catching his eye was his son’s performance at point guard, in relief of his other son, Myrks.
“When he’s not out there, we grow up a lot,” Brewer said. “That just makes us that much better when he is out there.”
Courtesy of Peter W. Zubaty and the Kentucky Standard