University of Kentucky recruits Dakotah Euton and Vinny Zollo were the star attractions Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum, where the Scott County boys' basketball team met Clark County.
Euton came through with 18 points and seven rebounds to help lead Scott County's Cardinals over Clark County's Cardinals, 79-59. Clark's Zollo, like Euton at 6-foot-8, notched a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
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Yet, the future Wildcats played supporting roles in the game.
Chad Jackson, a 6-4 junior guard, led Scott with 20 points, going 8-for-11 from the field, while 6-7 center Richie Phares totaled 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Corey Rogers, a 6-4 sophomore, paced Clark County with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Euton, a junior, and Zollo, a sophomore, took their high-profile roles in stride.
"It's just another game, just to come out here and have fun and just play," said Euton, who shot 7-for-14 from the floor, including 2-for-6 from three-point range, and sank his only two free-throw attempts. "As long as I come out here and try to play as hard as I can, usually all the butterflies and everything just go away."
Zollo went 4-for-11 from the field, 2-for-7 from long range, and 2-for-3 at the free-throw line.
"It's fun to go out and play him, us being friends," Zollo said. "But once you go out on the court it's serious. It's business."
Scott County took care of business from the get-go, using a 14-2 run over the first two quarters to build a 27-13 lead.
"I thought our defense the first quarter and our defense the second half was really good," said Billy Hicks, the Scott County coach. "That's been an Achilles' heel, ... our defense. In the second half, our defense was much better. I thought we contested shots, we contained the ball better. We're still not a great defensive team yet, but we're getting better."
Rogers and Zollo scored 18 points during a 20-11 surge to close the first half, cutting Scott's lead to 38-33. Clark County ran out of gas, though, in the second half.
"Their physical size wore us down," said Scott Humphrey, the Clark coach. "You could see it out on the court. I thought when we were fresh we played right with them. When we started to tire down, the mental mistakes snowballed, and (Scott County is) a good team."
While Scott County shot 31-for-62 (50 percent) from the field, Clark was held to 22-for-60 (36.7). Wear and tear also showed up at the free-throw line. Scott was 15-for-22 (68.2 percent), Clark 11-for-24 (45.8).
Phares, held to four points in the first half, took over in the paint by scoring 11 points in the third quarter. Scott doubled Clark's output in the period, 26-13, to lead 64-46.
"Coach just got into us at halftime and I just figured 'I'm a senior leader on this team so I'd better step it up,' " Phares said. "I went hard the third quarter."
The Euton vs. Zollo story line didn't faze Phares in the least.
"I try not to get all caught up in that, and this is just another high school basketball game," he said. "It doesn't matter who they came to watch. Everybody's got to play to win."
Although his team didn't get the win, Humphrey said Clark County got something positive out of the loss.
"It's December 18th and I didn't see any confetti shooting out or anybody cutting nets or trophies passed out," he said. "We'll put this in our memory bank and we'll work hard to get a little better."
■ Scott County's 1997-98 state championship team was honored during the halftime intermission.
CLARK CO. (4-2) — Hatton 7, Stenzel 8, Williams 4, Zollo 12, Rogers 19, Daniel 2, Bailey 4, Brewer 3. Totals 22-60 11-24 59.
SCOTT CO. (3-2) — Euton 18, Guyn 8, Jackson 20, Manning 5, Phares 17, Walker 3, Willoughby 4, Aa. Ford 4. Totals 31-62 15-22 79.
Clark Co. 13 20 13 13—59
Scott Co. 19 19 26 15—79
Three-point goals — Clark 4-14; Scott 2-10.