Scott County’s boys and girls made themselves at home at Bryan Station High School on Tuesday night. Both Cardinals basketball squads dominated their matchups in the 42nd District semifinals, punching tickets to Friday’s championship games.
Michael Moreno led the charge for the No. 1-ranked Scott County boys in their 78-54 victory past Bryan Station. The sophomore forward put up his typical gaudy numbers, pouring in a game-high 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting along with nine rebounds.
“Michael learned a lesson tonight because they were really physical,” said Scott County Coach Billy Hicks. “His jersey’s probably about five sizes too big for him, they held him everywhere he went tonight … and he still had nine rebounds and 26 points. That’s the kind of player he is.”
Moreno paced Scott County with 16 points in the first half while the rest of the Cardinals seemed to have trouble heating up. Bryan Station’s David DeMarcus drove for a layup late in the second quarter and Scott County led just 27-26 at the half, a far cry from the teams’ Jan. 31 matchup when the visiting Cardinals won by 38 points.
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But Scott County buried the Defenders in the third quarter, racing out of the gate with a 13-2 run as they outscored Station 20-8 in the period.
“Coach really got on us at halftime because we weren’t running our sets,” said Cooper Robb, who finished with 12 points. “We came out with that run to start the second half and that just gave us momentum and we built off that.”
Bryce Long came out of the locker room on a mission, scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half. His fast-break layup and a spot-up three-pointer gave the Cardinals a 58-36 lead. Long sank 3-of-4 treys on the night.
“Bryce is really starting to get hot,” Moreno said. “He’s a great shooter and when he gets going for us it’s huge.”
On the girls’ side, No. 17 Scott County eased the sting of last year’s postseason disappointment. Last February the top-seeded Cardinals were upset by Bryan Station on their home court in the opening round of the 42nd District Tournament. On Tuesday night, the Cards rode relentless defense and a huge game from sophomore Peyton Riddle to an 86-53 blowout of Sayre.
Sayre led 6-2 but its advantage was short-lived. Freshman point guard Morgan DeFoor tied the game at 9-9 after a steal and coast-to-coast drive, then sank a three-pointer two possessions later to give Scott County the lead for good at 14-11.
DeFoor was in command, directing the offense and setting up the Cardinals’ full-court press, which Sayre never solved. DeFoor finished with 11 points, 10 assists and five steals. Scott County forced 40 Sayre turnovers.
“Sometimes you run press to wear people down but tonight we were running it to make turnovers,” said Cardinals Coach Steve Helton. “We were really going after them aggressively trying to take them out of their comfort zone. We knew Sayre wanted to keep this a low-scoring game and we wanted to get up as many shots as we could … we had to make this game 84 feet.”
The Cardinals shot 47.6 percent from the field and got off 82 shots to just 43 for Sayre, holding the Spartans to 39 percent shooting.
Peyton Riddle lit up the scoreboard for the Cardinals, finishing with a game-high 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting. She scored six of Scott County’s final eight points of the first half as the Cardinals built a 33-21 lead.
Sayre got off to a hot start in the third quarter, as a runout layup by Kaya Davis off a Dee Dee Wheeler pass capped a 6-0 run to cut the Scott County lead to 35-27, but the Spartans would get no closer.
Riddle said the Cardinals are enjoying themselves right now, but they have more work to do.
“This is a fun way to play, just getting steals and being active,” she said. “It felt great to get this win and know we’re gonna be moving to the district championship, but we really want to get that win on Friday night and keep this going.”
Josh Sullivan; 859-231-3225
42nd District Tournament semifinals at Bryan Station
Girls: Henry Clay vs. Bryan Station, 6 p.m.
Boys: Henry Clay vs. Sayre, 8 p.m.