Bryce Long scored 24 points, 15 coming from behind the arc, as No. 5 Scott County held off No. 3 Henry Clay 74-69 at home on Friday night.
The game decided the 42nd District championship as both teams entered the night with one district loss. Scott County defeated Henry Clay in Lexington earlier this season but lost at Bryan Station on Tuesday to set up Friday’s winner-take-all matchup.
Long was 9-for-15, including 5-for-7 from three-point territory. Fellow freshmen Michael Moreno had 17 points and eight rebounds for the winners.
Cardinals Coach Billy Hicks said his team played a little out of control down the stretch and had some “stupid turnovers,” but overall he was pleased with the fight his group — dominated by underclassmen — showed in an important game.
“We did a pretty good job the whole game right ’til the end. … We got some tough calls there and I think the kids got frustrated,” Hicks said.
Scott County survived a 40-point night from Henry Clay senior Isaiah “Pun” Tisdale, who was 10-for-16 from the floor and 16-for-19 from the free-throw line. The rest of the Blue Devils combined to shoot 11 of 31.
“I’m very disappointed,” Henry Clay Coach Daniel Brown said. “I don’t feel like our best team showed up. We’ve got to have more than one guy show up.”
Bryce Long’s third three-pointer of the first half resulted in a 36-29 advantage for the Cardinals heading into the locker room. Tisdale scored 10 of his 40 in the third quarter to get the Blue Devils to within 53-49.
Henry Clay cut the game to a one-score possession five times in the fourth quarter, but the Cards never gave up the lead and came up with timely baskets when they needed them most. At 56-54, following a tough basket by Tisdale, Scott County responded with a 5-0 run to go up seven points with about five minutes left. At 62-59, Long drilled his final three from the corner, then Moreno scored on the Cards’ next possession to give them a 67-59 edge.
Henry Clay used a 6-0 run, capped by three points from Leander Ridgeway, to pull within 67-65 with under two minutes left. Scott County again took a two-score lead after Glenn Covington, who picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, scored an easy layup in transition about 50 seconds remaining.
Tisdale knocked in a long three-pointer and Henry Clay came up with the rebound after two missed free throws on the other end. Down 72-69, Tisdale created space to get a clean look to tie things up but the three-pointer rolled out. Cooper Watts came up with the rebound — his 10th of the game — and threw an outlet to Covington, who connected on a layup to make the final score.
Watts finished with 13 points to finish with a double-double. Scott County outrebounded the Blue Devils 36-25.
“I think Scott County got more 50-50 balls than us, every single one of them it seemed like,” Brown said. “We dug ourselves a hole doing that. … We hadn’t been doing that and for some reason we did it tonight. Hopefully we’ll get a third shot at ’em.”
Hicks was adamant that Scott County had no intention of letting Tisdale go off, ala Oscar Robertson at Cincinnati, while daring other players to step up and make a difference.
"No, no, no, no. We wanted him to not score a point,” Hicks said with a laugh. “He got those 40 because he worked his butt off for ’em. ... He’s a great player, probably the best all-around player in the 11th Region. There’s a lot of good players and he’s probably the best.”
Echoing his coach, Tisdale said not everyone came to play for Henry Clay on Friday night.
“It’s a rough loss,” he said. “We wanted that one seed.”
Scott County 74, Henry Clay 69
Henry Clay (21-5) — Ridgeway 12, Houston 4, Tisdale 40, Price 7, Jones 3, Jackson 3.
Scott County (23-3) — Moreno 17, Watts 13, Long 24, Robb 7, Covington 7, Damron 6.