HALL OF FAME
ALL A CLASSIC: Tigers extinguish Comets with closing run
February 21, 2013Bardstown High School
Bardstown to face Richmond Model at 5 p.m. Friday in QFs
Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm (Updated: January 24, 2:15 pm)
FRANKFORT — Bardstown hit the snooze button a few times before answering the alarm in its 8:30 a.m. opening-round game in the Touchstone Energy All A Classic Thursday, managing just one bucket over the first five minutes against 1st Region champ Carlisle County.
But once the Tigers (17-5) awoke, they did it in emphatic fashion, finishing the first half with a 10-0 run to grab the lead for good, then closing the game on a 17-6 tear to put away the Comets, 61-46.
It was the first trip back to the Farnham Dudgeon Civic Center since last year's All A championship, where Bardstown fell on a buzzer-beater three to Covington Holy Cross, 52-51, and Tiger coach James “Boo” Brewer said it stirred up some “very, very painful” memories.
“Our motto, our goal is we've got unfinished business to take care of,” Brewer said. “Hopefully we'll be back Sunday” for the championship.
Bardstown faces Richmond Model at 5 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals. The Patriots (18-3) advanced with a 68-54 win over University Heights (8-10) Thursday.
Neither team could get anything going from the outset, with Bardstown missing its first four field goal tries and turning it over three times before Seivon Schooling broke the ice with the Tigers' first bucket at the 4:26 mark. It remained slow going throughout the first half, as Bardstown hit just three of its first 24 shots from the field.
Brewer credited Carlisle with doing a great scouting job and executing the plan on defense, sometimes beating Bardstown players to their spots during the Tigers' offensive sets.
The Comets (14-8) pieced together a run keyed by 6'9 big man Marcus Burnett (13 points, 12 boards) picked up a bucket, four rebounds, three blocks and an assist as Carlisle claimed a 16-9 lead — its largest of the game — with 2:43 left in the first half. But that would be the high point for the Comets, as the Tigers came in with fresh legs off the bench to close the half with 10 unanswered points to grab a 19-16 lead at the half, and never trailed again.
Sophomore L.J. Cowherd, who came up big off the bench last year for Bardstown in its first-round win over Lexington Christian, delivered six points during the 10-0 run, and had a strong all-around game with 13 points, four assists and two steals, as well as hitting all four of his free throw attempts.
“He's kind of been in the doghouse, so that's why he hasn't been starting,” Brewer said with a smile. “I rewarded him in the second half and started him, and it paid off.”
After a first half that saw Bardstown hit just 6-of-28 from the field and Carlisle do only slightly better at 6-of-22, the third quarter was a stark contrast as both squads found a scoring rhythm and the game turned into an entertaining, back-and-forth affair. Devonte Grundy — the Tigers' leading scorer — struggled through a 1-for-9 first half, but turned it around in the third, pouring in 12 of his game-high 21 during the third. He scored on a layup following a Keanu Young steal with 22 seconds left in the third, making it 38-32 and matching Bardstown's biggest lead to that point.
“It was kind of hard for me the first half to hit shots,” Grundy said. “We just kept playing as a team, playing defense, and do what I had to do. Second half, my shot started falling.”
Still, Carlisle County hung tough during the early part of the fourth quarter, twice pulling within two of Bardstown, the last time on a Burnett free throw with 5:30 left that made it 42-40.
After that, it was all Tigers as Dee Yocum nailed a three on the fast break to follow up a Schooling stickback to stretch the lead out to 47-40, touching off a five-minute run where the Bardstown defense forced three turnovers and six straight Carlisle misses.
“They came out and hit that big three to extend it to seven, and we just didn't really recover after that,” Carlisle coach Brian O'Neill said.
After the tough first half, Grundy hit 8-of-14 from the field the rest of the way and also gathered a team-high 11 rebounds.
“The first half, his shot wasn't falling, and I've always told him he's got to do other things” to help the team, Brewer said. “I talked to him — I just told him how I believe in him, how much I love him. He went out in the second half and played an excellent ballgame.”
Schooling pitched in nine boards to go with six points and three blocks and three steals, helping Bardstown to a 38-29 advantage on the glass.
Tanner Guhy had 12 for the Comets, while Ethan Witherspoon added 10. Bardstown forced 20 turnovers while coughing it up 13 times, and the Tigers got an 18-2 advantage in points off the bench.
“Our defense really turned it up. The guys really were pressing the ball and doing a good job,” Brewer said. “My thing was hopefully just to wear them down and make them make mistakes.”