What started as a dreadful weekend for Scott County High School boys' basketball — coach Tim Glenn in bed with a 102-degree fever, coinciding with a similarly lethargic Friday night performance by the Cards — snapped back to the relative norm on Saturday and Sunday.
SC recovered from a 67-54 loss to Boyd County, welcomed its leader back into the fold, and fought off Christian County, 53-47 and Lawrence County, 71-58, to win the consolation bracket in the 65th Ashland Invitational Tournament at Paul Blazer High School.
It's not the consolation championship or runner-up trophy a more experienced flock of Cardinals brought back from the Beach Ball Classic the past two years, but it's a leap in the right direction and a hop, skip and jump over the ,500 mark for SC (6-5).
“I keep telling these guys, 'Don't doubt yourselves.' We've played a brutal schedule,” Glenn said. “We've given ourselves a great opportunity this first month of the season to play some good basketball teams at a high level.”
Aaron Leake was the shooting star with 23 points against Lawrence County.
Elias Richardson chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds to secure a spot on the all-tournament team. Terrin Hamilton had 12 points and six boards.
“We got back offensively to what we're good at,” Glenn said. “A lot of times they’ll step outside that and shoot a quick three or make a move that's not really part of their game. Then they miss one or two shots and start to hang their head.”
Cody Maynard scored 24 points and Tyler Maynard 22 to lead Lawrence County (7-6), which took its second and final lead of the game at 21-20 with 10 unanswered points early in the second period.
Leake scored baskets on three consecutive trips to put Scott County back in control, and Chase Grigsby's steal fed a fast break layup by Mikaleb Coffey to make it an 8-0 run.
Richardson followed his spin move for two with a steal to set up a pair of Leake free throws and make it a double-digit lead, 38-28, a minute in the second half.
“When they told me Elias made the all-tournament team, I asked them to come into the locker room and present it, because I want him to see that it’s a big deal,” Glenn said. “He needs to develop the confidence that he can do that night in and night out, because he's capable of it, and he is an important piece for us.”
SC's lead grew to 13 points on consecutive baskets by Leake and Coffey. Richardson answered a modest Bulldogs' run with a post-up to beat the buzzer for a 50-42 advantage.
Lawrence County scored the initial basket of the fourth quarter to get within a half-dozen, but Leake countered with a dagger three from in front of his own bench.
The getaway was a team effort down the stretch: Leake punctuated his big afternoon with seven points in the fourth quarter, while Richardson, Coffey and Hamilton each added a pair of hoops.
Scott County received key bench minutes from sophomore Jeremy Hamilton throughout the game with his older brother in foul trouble.
“He's someone I think you'll see start to get a lot more minutes, especially as we get into the district games, just because he's so physical,” Glenn said. “Jeremy's said to me before, 'Coach, I've got five fouls, and I don't mind using all of 'em.'”
Leads and deficits have been fleeting situations throughout the opening stretch of the season for up-and-down Scott County, and Saturday afternoon’s clash was no exception.
SC saw Christian County erase its 15-point lead in a span of fewer than four minutes in the third quarter, then pull ahead briefly in the fourth before Terrin Hamilton's six consecutive points rallied the Cardinals to the win.
Coffey and Grisgby each added four points down the stretch for Scott County (5-5), which bounced back from the brutal loss to Boyd County in Friday's opening round.
“I'd never tell them this, but some teams need to lose a few to be able to win, and I'm starting to see that a little bit with this group,” Glenn said.
Hamilton led SC with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Richardson chipped in 14 points and seven boards. Grigsby added nine points and Coffey eight. Da'Mikeon Mathis topped Christian County (3-7) with 12 points. Olajuwon White wound up with 11.
Scott County started out with a stifling half court defensive effort, allowing only four points in the opening period.
It was 30-17 at the half, and Hamilton's two free throws started the third period on the right foot before a 16-1 surge quickly pulled the Colonels even.
“There again we made four or five turnovers in a row, bad ones, and they took advantage,” Glenn said. “A couple of times it seemed like we threw the in-bounds pass right to them.”
Richardson and Coffey each had a go-ahead basket late in the third, the latter making it 37-35.
Mathis' 3-pointer chalked up the Colonels' lone lead of the day, but two put-backs by White were the only Christian County field goals thereafter.
“I told the guys if we cut off the middle and just made this team shoot over us, we'd be fine, and we got back to doing that at the end of the game,” Glenn said.
Glenn missed Friday's loss due to flu-like symptoms and viewed in quarantine on Facebook Live.
“They looked like they didn't even want to be out there,” Glenn said. “I started to get after them a little bit (Saturday), but you can't really do that right when you're getting ready to go out and play.”
Scott County's aspirations of winning the 65th annual AIT were just about over before they ever got started.
Eighteen turnovers underscored a dreadful first half for SC, which never recovered and wound up with 26 on the night.
“I was home watching online, because the way I was feeling, I didn't think I should be on the bus or even around the team, and my fever broke during the game,” Glenn said. “I told (assistant coach) Chris Willhite that, and he said, 'I think I got one.'”
It took a 17-2 run at the finish, orchestrated by the bench, to make the margin more palatable. SC finished the game with more turnovers than made field goals (23).
Blake Stewart knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 23 points for Boyd County (6-4), whose only losses prior to the tournament came two weeks ago at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. Stewart made five steals. The Lions also received 12 points from Gaylon Cisco, who entered the game averaging 4.3 per contest.
Boyd County led 17-8 after one quarter. SC failed to make a dent in that margin over the next eight minutes, trailing 36-26 at the half.
Another 17-7 pickup in the third period put it away for the Lions, who held the Cards to 33.3 percent for the second half and 38.3 overall. Richardson led Scott County with 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals. JZ Middleton saw his first substantial varsity action in the final nine minutes and took advantage to the tune of 6-for-8 from the floor and 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
“I was glad Chris gave the bench that opportunity,” Glenn said. “We were never going to get a better chance than that.”
Boyd County contained SC's leading scorer on the season, Terrin Hamilton, to seven points.
“Our losses to Woodford County and Great Crossing put a little bit of a stymie on us,” Glenn said. “Last year's team could go out and play their way through, but we're still learning how to do that.”
He hopes the two weekend wins have the opposite effect.
“I told the guys, the 2010 team, the one that Keith O'Brien wrote the book (“Outside Shot”) about, they were 7-5 at Christmas,” Glenn said. “Then they only lost one more game until they ran into Ballard in the state semifinals. There's a lot of basketball left to be played.”
The schedule doesn't get any easier: This week's one game is a trip to Bobby Keith Gymnasium at tradition-rich Clay County.
“I believe Billy (Hicks) only won in that building one time,” Glenn said. “If we go down there and are able to get a win, I'm going to have to reconsider my toughness rating for some of these guys. That would show me something.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.