With three freshmen starters, Knott County Central continues to gain experience while piling up wins.
The Patriots improved to 11-0 Thursday, downing No. 12 Henry Clay 58-53 in the iHigh Fayette County Invitational championship game at Bryan Station.
Henry Clay (6-4) could easily see where the game was lost.
A 2-3 zone defense helped Knott Central outscore the Blue Devils 10-2 in the second quarter to lead 23-18.
Never miss a local story.
"Man-to-man, they were too athletic for us," Patriots Coach B.B. King said. "Especially my babies — they're freshmen. ... But the kids I've got, they play hard for me."
Henry Clay, starting three sophomores, shot 1-for-15 and committed four turnovers during the quarter.
"Just disappointed," Coach Daniel Brown said. "We've got to make some shots. We just look like we're lost out there sometimes.
"We just play like a young team. I think the effort's there, but we've obviously got a lot of work to do."
Zack Davis, a 6-foot-3 senior, led Knott Central with 17 points. Freshmen Camron Justice and Evan Hall added 15 and 10 points, with Hall grabbing 11 rebounds.
"They could jump out of the gym, way more athletic than we were," Davis said. "We had to use our strength and just pound it inside, get some layups, get that momentum going. Then we kicked it outside and shot some threes."
Darien Tichenor came off the bench to lead Henry Clay with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Trey Grundy popped in 11 points, while Christen Cunningham and Jordan Green had 10 each. Green also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out four assists.
Henry Clay rallied from a nine-point deficit early in the third quarter to pull to within 41-40 when Cunningham converted both halves of a one-and-one with 4:17 left.
After a timeout, Davis drove through traffic and went up strong for a score.
Davis then grabbed a Henry Clay miss, brought the ball upcourt and powered through traffic for a 45-40 lead.
Tichenor hit a pair of free throws with 3:00 left.
Knott's Seth Adams, 0-for-5 from three-point range to that point, drained a trey from in front of the Patriots bench.
Cunningham answered with a three for the Devils.
Adams and Cunningham traded threes again, leaving Knott with a 51-48 lead with 1:10 left.
That's as close as it got, and Knott clinched things with Justice and Simon Christon each hitting two free throws in the last 33 seconds.
KNOTT CO. CENTRAL (11-0) — Adams 8, Justice 15, Davis 17, Hall 10, Christon 6, Cornett 2. Totals 20-50 13-22 58.
HENRY CLAY (6-4) — Cunningham 10, Grundy 11, Kimball 5, Green 10, Blackburn 0, Tichenor 14, Ware 3. Totals 21-54 7-9 53.
Knott Central 13 10 12 23—58
Henry Clay 16 2 11 24—53
Three-point goals — KCC 5-14; HC 4-15.