WINCHESTER — On Groundhog Day, No. 3 Clark County dug itself into a deep hole early, never burrowed out and got buried by No. 11 Lexington Catholic 61-44 in a high school basketball game Tuesday night.
The Knights' swarming defense forced seven quick turnovers, enabling them to build an 18-4 lead less than four minutes into the game.
"That's our bread and butter," Lexington Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman said. "You gotta be able to beat our press. Our guys play it with such passion and heart."
Clark County scratched back to within 30-25 midway through the second quarter, but the Knights scored the next 12 points and wound up winning easily.
Lexington Catholic had everything clicking as it won its seventh game in a row. Not only did its full-court pressure cook Clark County — 23 turnovers were converted into 31 points — its half-court offense was also superb.
Tanner Peurach, a 6-foot-8 senior, outshined the Cards' big men, 6-8 Vinny Zollo and 6-5 Corey Rogers.
Peurach had 16 points, six rebounds and four steals.
Zollo had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Rogers had three points and six rebounds.
"Tanner's the key," Salsman said. "At the beginning of the year, I said he'd be the best-kept secret in the state, and he's turning into that.
"If he keeps playing like this, we're going to be a very tough out."
Clark County Coach Scott Humphrey was impressed by Peurach.
"He kind of caught us off guard. We felt we could neutralize him on the inside, but he was such a force in there," he said. "They've got so many other weapons, it's hard to cover them all."
Sophomore Jaylen Beckham had 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals for Catholic. Scott Schuette and Seth Beckham had nine points apiece.
"Clark County had us in size, but we had our press working from the get-go," Peurach said. "We played as a team, and we all worked together. That's when we're at our best."
Clark County didn't play with the same fire as it did in a 67-64 home-court loss to No. 1 Scott County on Sunday afternoon.
Salsman said Lexington Catholic caught Clark County "on the wrong night. They're a lot better than they played, and I think they'll show that come the post-season."
Junior guard Robbie Stenzel had 19 points for the Cards before hurting his ankle in the closing minutes.
Even though he was disappointed with his team's performance, Humphrey wasn't discouraged by it.
After the game, he reminded his players that three years ago, Lexington Catholic came to town and whipped Clark County 69-45.
"That was when we were in a three-game lull, and no one gave us a chance to bounce back from that," Humphrey said. "But we went on to upset a very good Mason County team and made it to the (quarterfinals) of the state tournament.
"So we've been down this path before."
Lexington Catholic, meanwhile, served notice that it is a serious threat to win a third consecutive 11th Region title.
"I hope this lets everybody know we're good," Salsman said.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (16-4) — Peurach 7-9 2-3 16, J. Beckham 7-16 1-2 16, Martin 3-9 1-2 7, S. Beckham 4-7 0-0 9, Schuette 3-6 0-0 9, Porter 1-2 0-0 2 Floyd 1-1 0-0 2, Vissing 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-54 4-7 61.
CLARK COUNTY (16-6) — Stenzel 7-10 3-3 19, Zollo 3-9 4-4 10, Rogers 1-6 1-1 3, Daniel 3-6 2-2 8, Kindred 0-0 0-0 0, Purvis 0-4 0-0 0, Dini 1-1 0-0 2, Van Cleve 0-1 0-0 0, Skinner 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 15-38 12-12 44
Lexington Catholic 23 15 12 11—61
Clark County 13 12 11 8—44