Sweet Sixteen: Edwards' career-high 30 spur Hopkinsville in opener

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 19, 2014 

The bad news for Hopkinsville was that junior star Jaqualis Matlock was admittedly "a little too hyped" and struggled offensively in Wednesday's opener of the 97th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena.

The worse news for South Oldham was that it didn't make a lick of difference that Matlock went scoreless in the first half, including a missed dunk, and finished the afternoon with eight points, less than half his average.

Hopkinsville still drubbed the Dragons 83-62, a year after beating them 74-52 in the first round here.

Tigers point guard Tra Edwards led the way with a career-high 30 points. Quan Poindexter, a 6-foot-5 senior, had 19 points. Demarius "Dee" Henry, a 5-9 senior, hit five threes for 15 points and also grabbed nine rebounds.

Matlock's 11 rebounds helped Hopkinsville to a 42-26 edge on the boards as the 2nd Region champs won their 18th game in a row.

Edwards, a 6-foot-2 senior, was unstoppable when he repeatedly attacked the rim in the second half.

"He was a little bit quicker than we thought," South Oldham Coach Steven Simpson said. "As the week goes on, I see a lot of teams having trouble with him off the dribble."

Hopkinsville Coach Tim Haworth wasn't surprised by Edwards' offensive exploits. He referenced a regular-season game against Warren Central in which Edwards played poorly for 20 minutes, then poured in 25 points in the last 12 minutes.

"I've seen him explode before," Haworth said. "But he was pretty special tonight. He did a good job taking what the defense was giving him."

That was usually an opening to the basket.

"I really don't look to shoot that much," Edwards said. "But if they let me take it to the hole, I'll take it every time."

Just like last year, South Oldham's style — launching a bunch of threes — didn't work well against the longer, taller, more athletic Tigers.

The Dragons were 6-for-28 on threes in last year's loss while Hopkinsville was 6-for-14. This time around South Oldham was 7-for-29; the Tigers were 7-for-17.

"The recipe against them is if you can tie them in (threes), you've got a good shot to win," Haworth said.

While Haworth would "rather have layups and dunks," he feels comfortable with Henry's sniping from the outside.

"This is his third state tournament," Haworth noted. "He's got a huge heart ... and he's not afraid of the big moment."

Poindexter, a transfer from Christian County, wasn't shy on the big stage either. Besides his 19 points, he had six rebounds and three steals.

"I think they're better this year than last year," Simpson said of the Tigers, who made it to the semifinals in 2013. "They very well could win this tournament."

Hopkinsville (31-2) advances to play Trinity (30-5) in Friday's quarterfinals.

Simpson was happy with his Dragons, who were obviously overmatched against Hopkinsville.

Kyle Young led South Oldham with 15 points and seven rebounds. Jonathan Blair had 14 points and five rebounds. Michael Griffin and Drew Greenwood each had 11 points.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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