65Eastern50Clark County

Sweet Sixteen: Eastern gets physical to knock out Clark County, 65-50

defense triggers domination

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMarch 19, 2011 

Not only did top-ranked Eastern defeat No. 2 Clark County in the KHSAA/PNC Boys Sweet Sixteen, the Eagles dominated Friday.

Eastern's 65-50 romp in Rupp Arena put the Eagles into Saturday's 10 a.m. semifinal, where they will face Christian County. Eastern (33-2) has won its last 12 games and 26 of 27.

After Clark County's Corey Rogers scored to tie it at 2, Eastern launched a 15-0 run.

The Eagles led by 15, 13 and 18 at the quarter breaks. They led by 21 several times in the second half.

The Cardinals got off to a miserable start from the field — 1-for-12 in the first quarter and 3-for-21 in the half. And that wasn't the worst of it.

"They were very physical with us, especially on the perimeter, and I thought that was the difference in the game early on," Clark County Coach Scott Humphrey said. "As poorly as we shot it in the first half ... the big stat was 21-12 (first-half) rebounding. I think we could have battled through that poor shooting, but when you give up that many second-chance points you really put yourself in a hole."

Eastern finished with a 37-27 advantage in rebounds. The Eagles had a 17-12 edge in second-chance points, 36-18 in the paint. They made half their shots (26-for-52), to Clark's 32 percent (16-for-50).

Both teams had four starters standing 6-foot-3 or taller.

"They've played teams that are as quick as us. Ballard's a lot quicker than us," Eastern Coach Jason Couch said. "But I don't know if they've played teams that have had that much length."

Lyonell Gaines, a 6-6 senior and one of four Division I signees in Eastern's lineup (IUPUI), scored 17 points. Kameron Woods, 6-7 (Butler), had 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Remy Abell (Bradley) and Arman Marks (James Madison), both 6-3, netted 13 and nine points.

"We were just happy to be moving on to the Final Four," Abell said. "Next round, next game. That's been our theme all year. We've done it as a group, as a team."

The Cardinals (30-6) had won nine in a row and 21 of 22 until Friday's loss.

Rogers, a 6-5 football signee with Tennessee Martin, totaled 19 points. Western Kentucky signee Vinny Zollo, 6-9, and Eastern Kentucky recruit Robbie Stenzel, 6-4, scored 12 each. Zollo and 6-7 senior Travis Purvis led Clark with five rebounds each.

"We have length. They have athletic length," Rogers said. "They're real big and physical. ... They can all jump, and they felt hungry."

Purvis, who added five points off the bench, agreed.

"They were just getting us out of our sets, pushing us out farther than we needed to be, trying to get it out of some people's hands," Purvis said. "They were over-guarding everywhere. It's like playing 10 guys against five guys."

Eastern's 15-0 first-quarter run began with baskets by four different players — a Gaines jumper, a Byron Sanford three-pointer, Abell on a run-out and Woods on a put-back. Abell capped things with back-to-back three-pointers.

Clark missed 10 consecutive shots — including three that were blocked — and turned the ball over twice during that spell.

Clark opened the game in a 1-3-1 zone.

"Sometimes you can get stagnant against a zone, especially a team like us that likes to get up and down the floor a little bit," Couch said. "I thought we were really patient in the first quarter and got good shots, and knocked them down. The second half, we just wanted to try to make it tough on them."

Clark's desperate effort to rally in the fourth quarter led to four consecutive Eastern dunks — the first two by Gaines, the last two by Woods — that made the lead 61-42 with 1:58 left.

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