Hanging out on the hilltop

Great Crossing boys' basketball practiced at Western Kentucky University on Saturday morning and later attended a men's game at Diddle Arena.

It was a grind in each case, but all three county basketball teams finished on the plus side with two wins against one loss in far-from-home tournament action over the weekend.

Great Crossing boys enjoyed the strongest run, reaching the championship game of the Roy’s Bar-B-Que/First Southern National Bank Classic before falling to host Logan County, 80-74.

Both Scott County teams bounced back from first-round defeats to win the consolation bracket at their respective        tournaments. 

The Cardinals pulled away from Lawrence County for a 71-58 victory Sunday at the Ashland Invitational Tournament. In Monday morning’s wrap-up of the Blue Star High School Invitational in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the Lady Cards beat Butler of Matthews, North Carolina, 70-60.

GC (6-5) scored dramatic wins Friday and Saturday with emotional finishes at opposite ends of the spectrum.

In the opening round, the Warhawks survived two 3-point bids in the final five seconds from Hopkinsville — the second rattling around the cylinder before falling harmlessly to the floor — to eke out a 53-50 victory. Michael McKenzie, K.J. Tucker and Jaylen Barber each scored 11 points the victory for Great Crossing. 

Barber bagged a double-double with 16 rebounds. McKenzie provided two key 3-point sequences in the fourth quarter, one from beyond the arc and another with an old-fashioned finish from the line.

That was merely the warm-up for Saturday, when Neil Baker nailed a 30-footer at the buzzer to give GC a 55-54 semifinal victory over Louisville Collegiate.

GC rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 90 seconds of regulation, only to see Louisville Collegiate break through its defensive pressure and score a go-ahead layup with about four seconds remaining.

Tucker quickly inbounded the ball to Baker, who pushed forward to McKenzie. Forced away from the basket by his defender, McKenzie spun around and left a bounce pass for Baker, whose leaning catch-and-launch swished through the net as time expired.

Baker scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to match McKenzie for the team high.

The title game got away from Great Crossing after the Warhawks whittled a seven-point halftime deficit to two with eight minutes remaining.

Logan County out-scored Great Crossing, 34-30, in a free wheeling fourth quarter to close it out and hold serve on its home court.

McKenzie chalked up a career-high 32 points on 12-for-16 shooting to lead the Warhawks. Barber finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Baker combined 13 points with seven assists. Tucker tallied 10 points.

Dalton Thompson led four Cougars (9-3) in double figures with 20 points.

SC boys bounced back from a disheartening 69-57 loss to Boyd County in the opening round at Ashland. The Cards trailed by more than double that margin in the fourth quarter before 15 points from JZ Middleton led an impressive effort by the Cardinal reserves.

Elias Richardson led the way with 16 points for the Cards, who played without head coach Tim Glenn due to the flu.

Glenn was back for the remainder of the weekend, as was SC’s customary success, beginning with a 55-49 Saturday win over Christian County.

Terrin Hamilton topped the Cards with 19 points. Richardson registered 14, while Chase Grigsby added 12.

Aaron Leake was the shooting star with 23 points against Lawrence County. Richardson chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds to secure a spot on the all-tournament team. Hamilton had 12 points and six boards.

The SC girls dropped a 77-55 verdict to host team Keenan of Columbia, South Carolina, on Friday night. SC couldn’t dig out of a 41-33 halftime deficit.

Morgan DeFoor (14 points) and Malea Williams (10) led the Lady Cards, who roared back for a thrilling, last-minute win Saturday, 70-68, over Spalding of Griffin, Georgia.

DeFoor hit the tying and go-ahead free throws with 10 seconds remaining to cap her career-high 32 points. She also had seven steals, five assists and five rebounds.

Williams enjoyed a monster game, as well, with 20 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.

In Monday’s consolation final, DeFoor scored 17 of her 23 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer to beat the first-half buzzer.

Williams (20 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks) and Kenady Tompkins (10 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals) each chalked up a double-double.

Next action for each of the county teams is as follows:

Great Crossing boys – at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Scott County boys – at Clay County, 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Great Crossing girls – home vs. Iroquois, 2 p.m. Saturday.

Scott County girls – vs. Ryle at Franklin County, 8 p.m. Saturday.

For much more on the weekend success, including comments from coaches and players, please see Thursday’s edition of the News-Graphic.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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