Billy Hicks isn't into astrology, but the Scott County boys' basketball coach suspected the stars weren't aligned in favor of his top-rated Cardinals at Lexington Catholic Saturday night.
"It was one of those times when everything was set for us not to win," he said. "Everything went wrong for us and we could've lost."
But Scott County won anyway, rallying from six down in the fourth quarter to beat the No. 15 Knights 82-76 in a terrific late-season showdown.
"There won't be any tournament game with an atmosphere better than this," Hicks said after his team won its 18th in a row and ran its record to 12-0 against 11th Region competition.
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"This was a great test for us. I'm proud of the way we regrouped there at the end and made the plays to win."
Scott County was led by 6-foot-8 senior Richie Phares, who dominated inside with 26 points and 16 rebounds.
Junior point guard Chad Jackson overcame foul trouble to get 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Junior guard Ge-Lawn Guyn had 20 points and six rebounds.
Dakotah Euton, a 6-8 junior who has committed to Kentucky, had eight points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Lexington Catholic was led by senior star Vee Sanford's 28 points, eight assists, seven steals and five rebounds.
Sanford got help on the offensive end from sophomore Taylor Martin, who had 19 points, including eight early in the fourth quarter when the Knights surged to a 70-64 lead.
Scott County had its share of problems.
The Cards were missing sixth man Aaron Ford, a senior guard who was out with a bad ankle. Freshman starting guard Tamron Manning twisted his ankle early in the second quarter and didn't return.
Jackson's foul problems earned him time on the bench and made Lexington Catholic's pressure defense that much more effective.
The Knights forced Scott County into 22 turnovers, which they converted into 31 points.
"We had to fight through a lot with our guard play," Guyn said. "But this team has a lot of heart. We were down late in the game, but we knew we'd come back and win."
After Tanner Peurach's layup put Lexington Catholic ahead 72-68 with 4:15 left, the Knights had a scoring drought that lasted until Scott Schuette hit a three-pointer with 55 seconds remaining.
That pulled the hosts to within 76-75, but Scott County ran off the next six points to clinch the win.
Knights Coach Brandon Salsman said his Knights "aren't in it for moral victories. We never take anything away from a loss besides the fact we lost.
"I was proud of the way my kids fought, but they're as disappointed as they could possibly be because this was a game we should've won."
SCOTT CO. 82, lexington catholic 76
SCOTT COUNTY (22-3) — Phares 10-14 6-9 26, Guyn 8-19 3-5 20, Jackson 6-8 7-7 21, Euton 3-8 0-0 8, Manning 1-3 0-0 2, Ivey 1-1 1-2 3, Flannery 1-2 0-0 2, Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Willoughby 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-57 17-21 82.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (18-7) — Sanford 12-29 4-5 28, Martin 9-16 0-1 19, Peurach 3-5 1-4 7, Schuette 3-7 0-0 8, Botkin 2-5 2-3 6, Beckham 2-7 4-7 8. Totals 31-69 11-20 76.
Scott County 24 17 20 21—82
Lexington Catholic 22 14 22 18—76