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BOYS' 5th REGION TOURNAMENT: Tiger defense keys late run past Indians

March 10, 2014
Bardstown High School



By Peter W. Zubaty, Sports Editor

LEBANON — In the postseason, hot shooting may not always show up. Good defense, on the other hand, is far less whimsical, and will always be there when you need it, as long as you work hard.

Bardstown went cold for a spell in the second half of its 5th Region tournament opener Friday against Adair County, and the Indians were able to trim a 14-point Tiger lead all the way down to two early in the fourth quarter.

Panic never entered into the equation, however, as the Tigers locked down on the Indians,

allowing just one point over the final six minutes of the game to pull out a 55-41 win.

“Our tough schedule, that’s paid off,” Bardstown coach James “Boo” Brewer said. “Our goal is to win the region. We’ve got to take it one game at a time.”

Bardstown (24-6) advances to Monday’s 8:45 p.m. semifinal against defending region champ John Hardin (18-8).

“What don’t they do well?” Brewer wondered aloud about the Bulldogs, who, he said, mirror the Tigers, and that’s

why they bring out the best in each other. “We’ve got to play our game. It’s going to be a dogfight.”

It marks the fourth straight postseason meeting between the Bulldogs and Tigers, with John Hardin winning the past two. Bardstown won their regular-season matchup in December, 74-66. The Bulldogs own a 4-3 advantage in the series over the past four years, with all of the games decided by eight points

 

or fewer.

In other words, expect thrills.

“They’re like a big rival,” junior Keanu Young said. “A bunch of us play AAU together, so we know they’re going to bring it. We’re going to bring it as well, so it’s going to be a good game.”

Friday’s win was defined by junior guard L.J. Cowherd’s big first half, contrasted by the Tigers’ lock-down defense in the second half, thwarting the Indians’ rally.

Cowherd felt it right out of the gate, opening the scoring with an 18-footer from the top of the key, followed by a pair of buckets inside by Seivon Schooling, who delivered a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards despite foul trouble.

But Adair (17-14) was game out of the gate, getting six points early from freshman center Chance Melton (17 points, 14 in the first half) to stake the Indians to an 11-8 lead. Cowherd provided the response, however, scoring 10 of the Tigers’ 14 points over a five and a half minute span as they built a 19-11 lead a minute into the second quarter, and swelled it to 22-13 less than a minute later on the first of Quindon Litsey’s two three-pointers.

Bardstown maintained control throughout the rest of the second, growing the lead to 33-23 going into the break after Cowherd hit a three to close out a 19-point first half.

“He played phenomenal,” Brewer said of his point guard’s first half. “They keyed on him in the second half” to slow him down.

 

Things were going smoothly for the Tigers to start the second half, with Schooling getting a stickback and a pair of free throws to give his team a 39-25 lead — their biggest to that point of the game — at the 5:25 mark.

The Tigers’ offense stalled from there, and t

he Indians began their slow climb back, pulling to within 42-34 by the end of the third. That momentum continued into the fourth quarter, as the Adair crowd got fired up when Ty Bennett hit a three from the top of the key at the 6:36 mark to cut the margin to five. The Indian tribe was in full roar 40 seconds later when Bennett struck again with a corner three to cut it to 42-40.

Brewer said his team got lackadaisical during that stretch as they had success getting to the rim, but couldn’t finish.

Bardstown had the response Brewer was looking for, however, as Young came up with a steal and a finish at the other end, followed by Jalen Stone tipping it away from the Indians to Tavon Johnson to start the break, then getting it back for a short jumper to make it 46-40, forcing an Adair timeout with 4:28 to play.

“Throughout the game, we weren’t playing our best defense,” Young said. “We knew towards the end it was win or go home, so we had to step it up.”

The Indians got a free throw from Melton with 3:37 left to cut it to 46-41, but never scored again, committing four turnovers in five possessions at one point in the fourth as the Tigers pulled away.

Cowherd scored a game-high 24 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists. Nicolas DeVillalobos had a strong all-around game with five points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.


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