With a 22-point halftime lead over 18th District rival Hart County, the LaRue County Hawks hit a lull and went ice cold coming out of the locker room Friday night.
Settling for long jump shots and 3-pointers, the Hawks were held scoreless for nearly 5 minutes after halftime. Veteran coach Paul Childress burned two timeouts in that span, and got on his players for not executing the game plan.
The Hawks responded with an 18-8 run to close the third quarter en route to an 81-53 win over the visiting Raiders.
“Coach called a timeout and he was like ‘Stop turning the ball over and make plays, and get to the rim.’ He told us we were shooting too many 3s and not running our offense,” LaRue County junior guard Kelton Ford said. “We just went out there and executed, and things changed.
“We underestimated them,” he added. “We had a good lead, but we came out flat. We weren’t attacking. We were settling and shooting long jump shots instead of working the ball around.”
Hart County (2-2 overall, 2-1 district) trimmed LaRue County’s lead to 44-30 with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, prompting Childress to call for the second timeout.
The Hawks (3-0, 1-0) finally got going when senior guard Kyle Meredith converted a three-point play with 3:46 remaining, then picked off a Hart County pass and drove the lane for a layup to push the lead to 49-30.
After Hart County junior guard Chris Bradley hit a jumper and junior guard Steven Green hit a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 49-35, LaRue County senior guard Kyle Sheeran hit a 3 and Ford converted a three-point play to extend it to 55-35 with 2:05 left in the third.
“I think we played so good in the first half that we were going to have one of those lulls. I’ve seen it at every level,” Childress said. “You can say what you want to at halftime, but the guys came out and were playing on their heels mentally and physically instead of playing on their toes. I took a couple of timeouts after Hart made a couple of shots. They realized they were going to have to play, and they responded well. We came back to what we had been doing.”
LaRue County’s lead swelled to 62-38 going to the fourth quarter as Sheeran, who scored a game-high 24 points, closed the period with a 3 off an assist from junior guard Gabe Shirley.
Sheeran also had five steals and four assists, while Ford finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Meredith chipped in with 10 points, while Shirley and senior forward Jonathan Firquin each scored eight.