Wednesday night was a strong indicator of postseason basketball being a completely different animal than the regular season.
Drubbed by 51 less than three weeks ago to George Rogers Clark, Bracken County showed a solid effort in the 10th Region Quarterfinals, dropping a hard fought affair, 72-51 Wednesday night at The Fieldhouse.
The Polar Bears trailed by just nine with a minute to go in the third quarter and hung around almost to the midway point of the fourth before the lengthy Cardinals closed the door with the 21-point victory.
“I thought we kept it together. We had some early turnovers but I thought we kept it together,” Polar Bears coach Jason Hinson said. “Our goal was to get it down to 10 and see what happens and we got it down to nine. Kept battling, hit some shots and guarded well.”
After weathering an early storm in which the Polar Bears turned the ball over on their first five possessions and found themselves in a 12-2 hole, they closed with six straight points to get within 12-8 after a quarter of play.
“It’s a tournament game and previous scores never matter. I had a coach tell me a couple weeks ago there’s no style points for wins. So really what we wanted to accomplish was to try and go out and find a rhythm. We struggled in that department, but in the end we found a way to win,” Cardinals coach Josh Cook said.
Then the possible tournament favorite stepped it up as the Cardinals knocked down five 3-pointers in the second as they dropped 27 points, outscoring the Polar Bears 27-12 in the frame to take a 39-20 lead into the half.
“The second quarter killed us. We just didn’t do a good job taking care of the ball. We did a better job in the third and played them pretty even in the second half,” Hinson said. “Our main goal was to come in here and compete, not get embarrassed and let them know we were here. I think we did that.”
The lead would stretch to as large as 47-24 in the third before Bracken got a spark from Tanner Fisher, knocking down two 3-pointers during an 11-0 Polar Bears run to get them within 12. Fisher would knock down another triple later in the quarter to get them within nine at 49-40 with 1:15 to play in the quarter.
The Cardinals closed with the final four points in the frame to take a 53-40 lead into the fourth.
GRC teetered in-between an 11 to 14 point advantage halfway through the quarter before finally closing the door, holding Bracken to two points over the final four minutes of play.
The win gets GRC to Monday’s semifinal as they’ll take on Campbell County in what many are looking forward to. The start time for that one is 6 p.m.
Brennan Canada led four Cardinals in double figures with 22 points. Jordan Graham added 14, Will Philpot posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds and Chase Taylor added 10.
“We didn’t shoot it great tonight, missed some easy ones. One thing I did like tonight about our team when we needed kids to step up and get a bucket, they went out and did it. This type of tournament, this time of year you’ve got to have guys willing to make plays,” Cook said.
The Polar Bears season comes to a close with a 5-25 record. On the evening they were led by Trey Deaton with 12 points and six rebounds, being named to the All-Tournament team after the game. Mason Tucker added 11 points while Tanner Fisher had 10.
Bracken County will have to replace Deaton, Fisher and Cole Bishop next season.
“We’re excited for the future but we’re so proud of our seniors and how far they came along. Trey, Tanner and Cole are great kids and high character kids. They’re kids that you want your kids hanging out with. You want your kids around them and to learn from them,” Hinson said.
CAMPBELL COUNTY 70, HARRISON COUNTY 60
Harrison County had their chances, but in the end it was Campbell County closing out a tighter than expected contest Wednesday night at The Fieldhouse.
The Thorobreds (11-21) entered the fourth quarter trailing by eight after a 6-0 run to end the third and were able to keep the deficit in single digits for the majority of the fourth. At 56-47, the Thorobreds went scoreless for over three minutes to try and inch closer before Reid Jolly’s layup made it 58-47 with under four minutes to play. Jolly ended with a monster game, scoring 27 points to go with 10 rebounds.
Quenton Turley ended the scoreless drought with 2:42 to play, getting the Breds back within 10 at 59-49. The drought included Harrison missing a pair of front end of one-and-one free throw attempts.
After the Camels (26-5) stretched the advantage back out to 12 at 64-52, the Breds got right back within six after a pair of Turley triples.
Reid Jolly and Drew Wilson then missed a pair of free throws to push the lead back out to a three possession game, but the Breds turned it over once and fumbled a rebound attempt on the next try with the Camels having no one under their own basket to rebound.
Joel Day finally closed the door shut in the contest, knocking down two free throws to make it a three possession game with 21 seconds to play.
Jolly led four Camels in double figures, posting a big first half with 19 points and six rebounds. Wilson added 14 while Day and Tanner Clos each chipped in 13. The win gets the Camels to Monday night’s 10th Region semifinal against George Rogers Clark. Tip for the heavyweight matchup is at 6 p.m.
The Breds were paced by Turley with 20 points while Spencer Free notched 14 points and Braden Bryant 13. It’s the third straight season Harrison County has had their season ended in the first round of the regional tournament.