WINCHESTER — Friday the 13th was an unlucky night for basketball fans hoping to see a well-played, classic showdown between 10th Region rivals Clark County and Montgomery County.
Instead, the big crowd in Letcher Norton Gymnasium witnessed a 32-minute slog of snarling defense, missed shots and referees' whistles.
But for 13th-rated Clark County, Friday the 13th turned out just fine. The Cardinals pulled away in the second half to beat Montgomery County 52-35 to improve their record to 17-2 with their 15th consecutive victory.
"That's how we play," an unapologetic Clark County Coach Scott Humphrey said after the teams shot a combined 30 percent (30-for-100).
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"We're not going to win any beauty contests. It's not real pretty because offense is a struggle for us at times.
"But 17-2 is pretty."
Humphrey thought part of the problem was "we had some guys who were too emotional, and I thought Montgomery County did, too.
"This will be a learning experience for both teams."
At least the first half was close. Clark County led 24-23 at the break even though 6-foot-6 senior Adam Fatkin, who averages a double-double, had not attempted a shot.
For Montgomery County, the rest of the game was a nightmare. It managed only six points in the first 13 minutes of the second half. Omar Prewitt, their 6-6 junior who averages 21 points, went to the bench with his fourth foul early in the third quarter after he and Clark County's Bopper Stenzel each drew a technical for jawing.
Without Prewitt, who was having a rough shooting night anyway, Montgomery County couldn't score. The Indians wound up shooting 17 percent (4-for-24) the second half.
"I thought it was Kentucky-Georgetown in Seattle all over again," Indians Coach Tony Wise said, referring to UK's famously cold second-half shooting in the 1984 NCAA Final Four.
Clark County shot 31 percent (9-for-29) over the last 16 minutes, which was red-hot compared to Montgomery County. Stenzel led Clark County with 16 points, but he had to work for them all.
"I knew it'd be competitive and physical, but I didn't know it'd be like that," the senior left-hander said.
Humphrey credited 6-3 senior Charlie Rogers for setting the tone defensively, hounding Prewitt all over the court. Rogers also contributed 10 points, all in the first half.
Fatkin had eight points in the second half, and also finished with 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"When we make shots and everything is going smooth, obviously it's more pleasing to the eye," Humphrey said. "But when you defend and rebound like we do, you can win on nights like this."
Montgomery County, which dealt the Cards their last loss (58-56) last month, never found a rhythm in the rematch. Prewitt and Jake Handshoe had nine points apiece to lead the Indians.
Wise said he wished the officials had "talked the kids down a little bit, told them to calm down," and maybe that would have defused some of the emotions.
"But credit Clark County. They handled the other factors better than we did. They played through it."
MONTGOMERY CO. (14-4) — Prewitt 3-14 1-4 9, Crisp 0-5 0-0 0, Jones 3-3 0-0 6, Fruth 1-3 1-4 3, Kelly 2-4 0-0 4, Handshoe 3-12 3-5 9, Combs 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Burton 0-1 0-0 0, Razor 0-2 0-0 0, Hall 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 13-47 7-1 35.
CLARK CO. (17-2) — Stenzel 4-18 6-6 16, Fatkin 4-9 0-0 8, Howard 4-13 0-0 8, Rogers 3-7 4-7 10, VanCleve 1-2 3-5 5, Israel 0-1 0-0 0, Caudill 0-1 0-0 0, Roberts 1-1 1-2 4, Howe 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 17-3 15-22 52.
Montgomery Co. 11 12 5 7—35
Clark Co. 10 14 8 20—52