GEORGETOWN — Getting primed for tournament time, Scott County's top-rated boys' basketball team is on its longest winning streak in 10 years.
The Cardinals beat district rival and 11th-ranked Bryan Station 89-73 Monday night for their 16th consecutive victory. Scott County hasn't had a longer string of success since its 1999 state runner-up team won 21 in a row.
Are the Cards playing their best basketball of the season?
"Definitely," junior Chad Jackson said. "We're playing defense a whole lot better because that's one thing coach is emphasizing. If we play good defense, we'll be hard to beat.
"We're just meshing better and our chemistry is better."
Jackson provided the spark against Bryan Station. The 6-foot-4 point guard had 16 points, eight rebounds, seven steals and four assists to lead Scott County to its 20th win of the season.
"Chad had a heck of a game," Coach Billy Hicks said. "He made a lot of plays, had some big steals and took the ball strong to the hole."
Richie Phares, a 6-8 senior, had 21 points, including 9-for-10 at the foul line, and nine rebounds.
Dakotah Euton, a 6-8 junior who has committed to Kentucky, had 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
Ge-Lawn Guyn chipped in with 13 points.
Bryan Station, which lost to the Cards 87-60 a few weeks ago, made the rematch a little closer. The Defenders stayed with Scott County most of the first half thanks to Charles Ashford's 20 points, including four three-pointers.
Leading 43-34 at halftime, Hicks had a simple message for his team: "I told 'em we had to start guarding Ashford."
Ashford had only three points in the third quarter, then went to the bench early in the fourth quarter with a cut on his head. He eventually returned, but not until the game was out of hand.
"When Charles was out, that's when Scott County went for the jugular and we had no answer," Defenders Coach Champ Ligon said.
The Cards went on a 20-5 run to open up an 81-55 lead with 4:50 left.
Bryan Station had one last rally as Joe Fain came off the bench to hit four threes, but it was too little, too late.
"Bryan Station's got pride, and they came out and played hard," Jackson said.
Ashford finished with 28 points and five rebounds. Fain had 17 points, 16 in the second half.
Bryan Station had only one less field goal than Scott County, but the winners cashed 32 of 39 free throws.
Although Ligon wasn't happy with the result, he was more upbeat than when his team got drubbed by the Cards on Jan. 16.
"In that first game they jumped on us early and we didn't respond," he said. "We lost by 16 tonight, but at least we competed.
"We've gotta keep getting better, and hopefully we'll play them a couple more times before it's all said and done."
The teams could face each other again in the district and region finals.
Scott County, undefeated against 11th Region competition, has another big test when it visits Lexington Catholic on Saturday.
SCOTT COUNTY 89, BRYAN STATion 73
BRYAN STATION (16-5) — Ashford 11-24 4-12 28, Morones 2-12 3-4 8, Adams 2-3 2-3 6, Mabson 1-4 2-2 4, Smothers 1-4 0-0 2, Richardson 1-6 3-3 5, Fain 6-8 1-2 17, Ball 1-3 0-0 3, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Wells 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 25-66 13-21 73.
SCOTT COUNTY (20-3) — Phares 6-8 9-10 21, Euton 6-12 4-4 18, Jackson 5-8 6-8 16, Guyn 5-11 1-3 13, Ford 1-2 2-2 4, Ivey 1-3 4-4 6, Manning 1-4 2-2 4, Flannery 1-4 2-2 5, Willoughby 0-0 2-4 2. Totals 26-52 32-39 89.
Bryan Station 19 18 16 23—89
Scott County 18 25 18 28—73