This was the Scott County boys' basketball team that was rated an overwhelming No. 1 in the pre-season.
This was the team that was supposed to have enough firepower to torch the best competition around.
And it did just that Friday night, blasting host Bryan Station 87-60 before a close-to-capacity crowd in a showdown of top 10 teams.
"We wanted to make a statement to all of the 11th Region because we'd heard things like we were overrated," Scott County senior Richie Phares said.
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Second-ranked Scott County, whose only in-state loss was to top-ranked Holmes, made its statement early, thanks to its defense.
In a five-minute stretch of the first quarter, the Cardinals forced 10 turnovers and turned them into 15 points to fuel a 19-0 run.
That gave the visitors a 25-6 lead. Sixth-ranked Bryan Station never recovered as it lost to its district rival for the eighth time in their last 11 meetings.
Richie Phares had 12 of those 19 knockout points for Scott County. The Defenders had no answer for the 6-foot-8 senior inside.
Phares took a nasty spill after a fast-break dunk midway through the third quarter and didn't return. He still finished with 25 points and eight rebounds.
"He's been a tough matchup for us for three years," Bryan Station Coach Champ Ligon said. "There's no doubt he's the top player in the region."
Phares didn't go it alone.
Junior guard Ge-Lawn Guyn overcame early foul trouble to score 21 points.
Dakotah Euton, a 6-8 junior who has committed to Kentucky, had 19 points, including 3-for-6 on three-pointers, and 12 rebounds.
Junior point guard Chad Jackson ran the show. He had 10 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
It might have been Scott County's best overall performance since it won the Sweet Sixteen title two years ago.
"It was a total team effort," Coach Billy Hicks said. "The thing I'm proudest of is how hard we played.
"We're getting better defensively, and we're learning how to play with each other."
Scott County was on top 46-28 at halftime, and led by as many as 29 points in the closing minutes.
Bryan Station never got its offense in sync against the Cards' swarming traps.
Ligon said a combination of things caused his team's first-quarter collapse.
"It was not only the turnovers, but it was poor shots on our part and Scott County's domination on the boards," he said. "They just wanted it more than we did. We didn't come mentally prepared to play, and it showed."
Cameron Richardson's 19 points led Bryan Station. Charles Ashford, who had averaged 25 points the last couple weeks, was held to 14.
Scott County won the statistical battles. It outshot the Defenders 49 percent to 37 percent, and outrebounded them 51-37.
"Coach tells us if you play hard, good things will come, and we played hard tonight," Phares said.
Scott Co. 87, bryan station 60
SCOTT CO. (12-3) — Guyn 9-10 1-3 21, Phares 10-15 5-7 25, Euton 7-17 2-2 19, Manning 2-9 1-4 5, Jackson 4-11 2-4 10, Ford 1-6 0-0 3, Flannery 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 35-72 11-20 87.
BRYAN STATION (13-3) — Ashford 5-11 4-7 14, Richardson 7-15 1-2 19, Mabson 2-4 1-2 6, Adams 3-6 0-2 6, Smothers 1-3 0-0 2, Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Morones 1-5 2-4 5, Fain 2-12 2-2 6, Waide 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 10-20 60.
Scott County 25 21 18 23—87
Bryan Station. 8 20 13 19—60