Reeling from its first three-game losing streak in 10 years, down a double-digit scorer due to injury, Scott County boys' basketball unleashed a two-headed monster Tuesday night in a key, crossroads clash against time-honored 11th Region rival Madison Central.
Terrin Hamilton (33 points) and Elias Richardson (28) didn't disappoint, collecting career highs in the scoring column to propel the Cardinals past the Indians, 74-60.
SC (7-8) was without Aaron Leake, who went down with an ankle injury Friday against Henry Clay and then sat out Saturday's loss at Oldham County.
“We had to have scoring come from somewhere. It really changes a lot,” Scott County coach Tim Glenn said. “Now we've had a little time to prepare (without Leake), and some kids have had a chance to step up. Not so much scoring wise, but we still shared the ball well. We had a lot of people score.”
None were more prolific than Hamilton and Richardson. They went a combined 23-for-36 from the field on a night where the Cards shot 50.9 percent.
Hamilton, who chalked up his previous best of 32 points in the season opener at Bullitt East, rounded out his double-double with 10 rebounds.
Despite the lack of validation last week against a pair of teams that could surface in the state's top 10 by season, Glenn senses that his team is rounding into form by its attention to detail in practice.
“I just felt a turning point last week. Our intensity was better. We're learning what to do,” Glenn said. “Chase (Grigsby) did some good thing leadership wise. Mikaleb (Coffey) did things. The scoring came from (Hamilton and Richardson), but there were lots of other pieces that really helped us.”
Coffey chalked up four assists to lead the Cardinals in that category, while Grigsby tallied three of Scott County's six steals.
Another key ingredient has been Silas Emongo, a senior and noted defensive pest who has earned the starting spot in Leake's indefinite absence.
“Silas did a great job. He's still working to get better skill-wise,” Glenn said. “At Oldham he had a hard time taking care of the ball. They put him in some spots where it was tough on him. Tonight he stayed within himself, and we kind of kept him out of that situation. We're just going to have to play through it.”
SC surged to a 21-11 lead in the opening quarter, then stretched it to 35-24 at the half and 54-35 with eight minutes to play.
Similarly challenged by a brutal schedule and many new faces in its lineup, Madison Central (6-10) couldn't overcome 14 turnovers or a 33-24 disadvantage on the boards.
Kole Browne led the Indians with 18 points. Taishon Chenault chipped in 13.
“Allen (Feldhaus, Madison Central coach) said he told his kids the same,” Glenn said. “We're not dumbing (the level of competition) down. We're learning how to play and what to be. It's going to benefit us, but we've got to be positive. We can't just beat on 'em and beat on 'em.”
Sixty marked the fourth-fewest points allowed by SC in a game this season and its best effort since the Ashland Invitational in December.
“The guys filled roles really well. We tried to take good shots,” Glenn said. “At the end of the game we got rushed up a little bit, but we still got back on defense. It's tough to take a bad shot and then get back and play defense. All night long, I'm just so proud of how those kids positioned. Again, we played like we've turned a corner.”
Glenn praised Josh Bredwood — like Emongo, earning his keep as a defensive stopper — by drawing multiple offensive fouls at the Indians' expense.
JZ Middleton, Micah Glenn and Isaiah Haynes also played crucial rotations for the Cards.
“I think we wound up having 11 players that played, nor just at the end of the game, but when it mattered,” Tim Glenn said.
Eleven was a magic number: It's the point total to which SC held Madison Central in both the first and third periods.
“Tonight as a unit, that third quarter was as good as I've seen us play,” Glenn said. “They had a hard time. We were in passing lanes. We were help side. We went with the back doors. It was textbook.”
The district and region schedule gets no easier for SC, which traveled to Frederick Douglass after press time Wednesday.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.