The LaRue County Hawks haven't had much luck against North Hardin, but they certainly caught the Trojans at the right time this season.
And they took advantage of it.
Junior Kelton Ford scored a game-high 27 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, as the Hawks knocked off the Trojans, 68-62, Dec. 13 at Ron Bevars Gymnasium. It was LaRue County's first win over North Hardin since the 1994-95 season.
“We haven’t beaten them since I've been here,” Ford said. “To go to 4-0, that's important. It will get people to notice us in the region because we beat a top-notch team, who usually plays in the region final. That says a lot about our team.”
The Hawks grabbed a 22-19 lead late in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by senior guard Kyle Meredith and they never relinquished it. They were able to fend off every run the Trojans made in the second half.
“It was big to keep the lead,” LaRue County coach Paul Childress said. “We knew they were going to make their runs and I thought we answered every time. I thought our guard play was huge. But we got great contributions from everyone.”
North Hardin (2-3) was without senior point guard Jermaine Ruttley, who is out with a stress fracture in his left foot. The Trojans also were without two other starters after five players were suspended indefinitely last week. It was only North Hardin's second game since the suspensions.
“Too much Ford for us tonight,” Bevars said. “Without making excuses, we only have one guy who's played varsity ball. But you have to give them credit. They are well-coached and they play smart. They take advantage of your mistakes. They gave us fits. There’s only one way to learn and that’s to play.”
The Hawks led by four at halftime and stretched it out to 30-22 within the first minute of the second half. But North Hardin used an 11-5 run over the next three minutes to slice the lead to two and prompting Childress to call a timeout.
Ford made a layup and senior guard Kyle Sheeran hit two free throws. Meredith nailed a 3-pointer and then a layup in the final seconds to extend the LaRue County lead to 44-37 after three quarters.
North Hardin trimmed the lead to 48-44 after Hendrix made a layup with 5:57 remaining. But Ford quickly answered with a 3-pointer on the other end.
“My dad (assistant coach Simon Ford) told me and Kyle to step up and take over the game,” Ford said. “I felt comfortable with my jump shot and I was able to get to the rim and create when they went to a man-to-man (defense).”
The Trojans closed within four on two more occasions – the last coming at 64-60 with 1:08 left - but Sheeran and Ford each made layups in the final 34 seconds to secure the win.
“Kyle Sheeran has carried us and he struggled tonight,” Childress said. “But I thought Kelton and Kyle Meredith helped him out. He (Kelton) was about to extend them out and then get to the rim and Kyle Meredith made some big shots. It wasn't always pretty, but it's a win.”
Kelton Ford 27, Kyle Meredith 17, Kyle Sheeran 8, Tyler Howell 4, Jonathan Firquin 4, Gabe Shirley 3, Jackson Venegas 3, Kody Key 2. FG: 21-51. FT: 21-31. 3-pointers: 5-19 (Ford 2-4, Meredith 2-6, Shirley 1-1, Key 0-1, Sheeran 0-7). Rebs: 28 (Firquin 6). Assists: 8 (Ford 4). Steals: 10 (Ford 4).