WINCHESTER — Clark County's boys' basketball team, which had its confidence shaken with losses to powerhouses Scott County and Lexington Catholic in recent weeks, rediscovered its swagger against No. 1 Ballard Friday night.
In a wild regular-season finale, No. 8 Clark County rallied from 18 points down in the first half and eight down late in the fourth quarter to beat the Bruins 80-76 in overtime before a loud and ultimately happy crowd.
"Beating Ballard on any night, any year, is an achievement," Coach Scott Humphrey said. "But to come back like we did and make so many toughness plays down the stretch was special."
Clark County had to pull off a difficult play to force overtime. The Cards trailed 64-62 and had to inbound the ball three-quarters up-court with just four seconds left.
Travis Purvis threw a long pass to 6-foot-8 Vinny Zollo, who caught the ball near the right baseline and hit a turnaround jumper to tie it.
"We had him defended well," Ballard Coach Chris Renner said. "Vinny just hit a tough shot."
After falling behind early in the extra period, Clark County went on a 7-0 run to take control. The difference was the hosts hit their free throws, and Ballard did not.
The Bruins trailed 74-71 when Tyrell Means was fouled on a three-point attempt. He went to the line and missed all three tries.
Robbie Stenzel, who just returned this week from an ankle injury, fueled Clark County's comeback. The 6-4 junior had 22 of his 24 points in the second half. He said teammate Andrew Dini pumped him up at halftime.
"He gave me a speech about confidence, and not to think about my ankle, and to just play," Stenzel said.
Humphrey praised Stenzel for "demanding the ball in the fourth quarter and showing his toughness."
Zollo carried the Cards in the first half — he had 12 of their first 14 points — and finished the night with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Corey Rogers, a 6-5 junior, had 15 of his 17 points in the second half.
Ballard, which stormed to early leads of 19-4 and 26-8, lost its mojo after that. It had trouble against Clark County's zone defense, and didn't capitalize on its superior quickness.
Ian Chiles led the Bruins with 22 points. Keisten Jones had 19 and Means added 11.
When these teams met in last year's regular-season finale, Ballard won 74-73 on a jumper by Jones with five seconds left.
This time it was Clark County's turn to celebrate.
Renner said Friday night's rematch was "a great game in a great atmosphere and it'll help us in the tournament."
Renner also noted that Clark County and the community of Winchester was still mourning the death of Shawna Taylor, a senior who died in a car accident earlier this week.
"Something like that is way bigger than a basketball game," he said. "I feel for them and want to keep this in perspective with our kids."
Ballard and Clark County head into district play next week. The Bruins will try to win the ultra-competitive 7th Region, while Clark County will try to take the 10th.
"Beating the No. 1 team in the state gives us a lot of confidence," Stenzel said. "And we play a lot better when we have confidence."
BALLARD (24-4) — Jones 19, Chiles 22, Means 11, D. Hardin 6, Baker 2, Parker 6, Collier 6, F. Hardin 4.
CLARK COUNTY (22-6) — Stenzel 24, Zollo 22, C. Rogers 17, Daniels 2, Kindred 6, Purvis 9.
Ballard 22 8 13 21 12—76
Clark County 8 12 19 25 16—80