LEXINGTON – After exorcising the demons that haunted Campbell County in the regional tournament the past two seasons denying them bids to the state tournament, the bad omens came back to haunt the Camels at the state tournament Friday evening.
Oldham County’s Travis Henderson knocked down a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left to knock off the Camels, 56-55 in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 quarterfinals.
“Tough loss, big shot. Very disappointed that we lost. I’m not disappointed in how we played, we played hard, did some good things, had a chance to win. Just the big shot got us again,” Camels coach Aric Russell said.
This one may not have been at the buzzer, but 3-pointers from Mason County’s Pig Williams in 2016, Scott’s Jake Ohmer in 2017 and now Henderson in 2018 all put an end to the Camels season.
“When you have good teams every year, you’re in the mix every year, that gives you more chances for that to happen. Kid made a nice shot, he’s long, he can shoot it and even when you get guys out on him it’s just tough,” Russell said. “They had to make a big shot and they did. I don’t feel snakebit at all, put yourself in position to be in big games and that’s going to happen. We’ll be in that position again, sometimes you win them, sometimes you lose them.”
It’s one the Camels probably feel they let slip away, leading 42-31 with less than a minute left in the third quarter. But what’s been a key in their successful season, let them down Friday night as they committed 15 turnovers, nine in the second half including a timeframe where they committed five on five straight possessions.
“Normally we handle the pressure a lot better than we normally do. Just a little bit of panic, they’re long, we tried to throw through their hands and that effected us. We also got some easy scores off of it a few times. We don’t do that a lot, turn the ball over and that definitely hurt us,” Russell said.
Oldham County took a 15-12 lead after a quarter of play, hitting 7-of-10 shots, while the Camels struggled early on, making just 5-of-13. The shooting woes continued into the second quarter for Campbell with four straight misses to start the frame, but then the efficiency that’s fueled them all season started to show up.
Five straight makes ignited a 14-0 Camels run, pushing them to a 26-17 lead with a little more than three minutes to play in the half. They’d let off the gas a tad as the Colonels closed on a 6-2 run to get within 28-23 by the break.
Oldham County was able to get as close as two at 30-28 to open up the second half, but the Camels would go on a 12-3 run to take a 42-31 with less than a minute left in the third. The two would go into the fourth, Camels leading 43-35.
The Colonels hadn’t hit a 3-pointer the first three quarters and were shooting 5/13 from the free throw line, Zach Larimore ended the 3-point drought with 5:51 to play and get Oldham within 45-40. Larimore would knock down another trey 1:41 later to get the Colonels within two at 49-47.
Campbell County would remain with the lead until a Larimore jumper knotted things at 53-all with 44 seconds to play. Reid Jolly quickly answered on the other end with a layup to give the Camels the lead back at 55-53 with 29 seconds remaining.
Initially not calling a timeout and trying to let it play out, the Colonels took time with 8.8 seconds remaining.
“I’ve been in a part of a lot of games like that when I was playing with Coach Hicks at Scott County and his mindset was go and don’t let the defense get set up. I let them go to see what we were going to get out of it, but once our initial attack didn’t work I wanted to call a timeout to see what we can get,” Colonels coach Zach Sorensen said.
The Camels came out in a 2-3 zone and Jackson Gibson surveyed the defense, drove to the middle of the paint and hit Henderson in the corner as he drained the triple.
“Jackson’s comfort zone is at the top and that’s where he likes to be. Travis has been our best shooter all year, they made the right read, made the right play and hit the shot, so hats off to them,” Sorensen said.
After a series of timeouts, Nate Schaefer hit Tanner Clos near midcourt, he took three dribbles and his halfcourt heave came up short, putting an end to the Camels season.
“I’ve never been on a team like this before, from top to bottom, whether you were an upperclassmen or an underclassmen, we all got along so well. This has been the best year of our careers, we got to play at Rupp. This one is going to hurt for a while,” Camels Joel Day said.
The loss put the Camels record at 29-6 on the year. They were led by Drew Wilson on the evening with 16 points, Jolly had 14 while Tanner Lawrence chipped in 10 off the bench.
Oldham County moves on to face Covington Catholic in Saturday’s semifinal at 8 p.m. They were led by Larimore’s 23 points, Henderson had 18.
SCOTT COUNTY 73, CORBIN 62
Scott County exploded for a 21-2 third quarter run to propel them into Saturday’s semifinals with a 73-62 win over Corbin.
Leading by just one at 31-30, the Cardinals caught fire as Bryce Long and Glenn Covington knocked down multiple 3-pointers during the run.
Corbin was able to get within nine at 1:32 left to play, but the Redhounds could get no closer, ending their season at 26-8. The loss also marks the end of the high school career for Andrew Taylor, who finished his career with 3.628 points, good for third all-time on the KHSAA career scoring list. Taylor had 25 points in the contest.
The Cardinals were led by Covington’s 20 points, while Long added 18. A key note in the contest was Scott County’s ability to convert off turnovers, scoring 22 points off turnovers to the Redhounds seven.
Scott County faces Warren Central, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Final Four. They improved to 36-1 and are riding a 28-game winning streak.
WARREN CENTRAL 74, PIKEVILLE 57
Warren Central hit nine of their first 11 shots as they shot out to a 23-11 first quarter lead and never looked back.
The Dragons led by double digits the majority of the rest of the game as they cruised into Saturday’s semifinals and a date with Scott County.
Warren Central ended up shooting 65 percent for the game, including knocking down nine 3-pointers. Jordan Cousin led the Dragons scoring punch with 23 points while Wright State signee Skylear Potters notched a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. The win improved them to 31-5 on the season.
Pikeville, after upsetting John Hardin in Wednesday’s first round, was just overmatched from the start in this one. Shooting 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from the free throw line didn’t help the cause.
The Panthers were led by Wyatt Battaile’s 12 point effort, the lone Pikeville player in double figures. Their season ends with a 25-10 record, making back-to-back trips to Rupp Arena.
COVINGTON CATHOLIC 66, FERN CREEK 58
Iowa signee CJ Fredrick poured in a tournament-high 32 points as the Colonels advanced to Saturday’s semifinals.
Covington Catholic was efficient from the field once again, shooting 62 percent from the field and knocking down 80 percent of their free throw attempts.
The Colonels led throughout, taking leads of 20-15 at the end of the first, 39-25 at the half and 51-35 after three quarters of play. Fern Creek was able to get within nine in the closing minute, but the steady free throw shooting of Cov Cath closed the contest out.
They’ll take on Oldham County, Saturday at 8 p.m. After Fredrick’s 32, Aiden Ruthsatz added 10 points.
Fern Creek’s season came to a close with a 27-7 record. They were led by Ahmad Price and Clint Wickliffe with 14 points apiece.