Bryan Station started the week as one of only two 11th Region boys’ basketball teams with undefeated records. It hopes to end it as the only one.
The Defenders took one further step toward that goal by upending University Heights, 82-69, in the second round of the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic. Both teams had first-round byes in the tournament, which tipped off Tuesday.
Scott County, the defending 11th Region champ and ranked No. 1 overall in the Herald-Leader’s statewide preseason poll, dropped its first game Tuesday night to Cincinnati Moeller, 60-41, in South Carolina. That result left Bryan Station as the only central Kentucky team without a blemish. The Defenders now are one of only three undefeated teams left in the state along with Butler, which was scheduled to play St. Xavier on Wednesday afternoon, and Oldham County, which on Thursday begins a three-day tournament in Florida.
Early, it looked like Station might join their 42nd District rivals in the defeated club. University Heights jumped to an 11-4 lead after a layup by KyKy Tandy with 5:17 left. Frequently such a fast deficit will illicit an early timeout, but Defenders Coach Tommy Johnson opted to let his guys play on without a stoppage.
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“We hadn’t played in over a week so it took us a while to get our legs back, our groove back, our rhythm back,” said Johnson, whose team last suited up in the Berea Invitational on Dec. 17. “That’s what that was in the first quarter, so that’s why I didn’t call a timeout. You’ve gotta play through it.”
Johnson knows his guys well: Station ended the period on a 16-2 run and never trailed again after going up, 12-11, on a pair of Jalen Burbage free throws. The Defenders (11-0) outscored UHA 48-28 in the paint, led by as much as 20 points in the second half and held the Blazers 15 points below their state-best 84 points per game.
Tandy, UHA’s star junior who leads the state in scoring and who’s received scholarship offers from Florida, Oklahoma and Western Kentucky, had a game-high 35 points, but the next three leading scorers were Defenders. Eric “Boss” Boone led Station with 29 points while Terrance Clayton-Murphy wasn’t far behind with 24. Burbage had 11 points.
Station outrebounded UHA, 35-28, and had 12 assists to only four for the Blazers (5-4). Boone had a game-high 13 rebounds, matched Burbage with five assists and matched Clayton-Murphy with three steals.
Boone also picked up a technical foul with 4:33 left in the second quarter after converting a layup on which he felt there was contact. He came down and screamed in exuberance.
“They smacked me all over my face, but it’s good, it’s good,” Boone said with a grin. “I wanted (the defender) to come back at me competitively. I want him to come at me and I go at him. I was trying to get him going a little bit.”
Clayton-Murphy jumped in.
“The refs tell us don’t talk, but we can’t help it, that’s what we do,” Clayton-Murphy said with a laugh. “We’ll take the tech.”
Station will next play at 9 p.m. Thursday against either Doss or Rocky River (Tenn.), who were scheduled to meet at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Johnson said his players are aware of their win streak but are more aware of the importance shouldered by “the next game” each time they play, particularly in this event, which has produced a state champion (Paul Laurence Dunbar) and a state runner-up (Cooper) in each of the last two seasons.
“Winning this is a pretty good indicator of what you can do as far as measuring where your team is compared to teams around the state,” Johnson said. “It’s a good competition and we’re looking to continue the streak if we can.”
Traditional Bank Holiday Classic
When: Through Saturday
Where: Lexington Catholic, Alumni and Bueter gyms