Scott County used a 22-3 run in the second quarter to bury Madison Central in the first half of a 67-39 victory in the boys’ 11th Region Tournament semifinals Saturday afternoon at EKU’s McBrayer Arena.
Cooper Watts put a running clock into effect for the Cardinals with 6:54 left in the game, Scott County’s second in the tournament to put the rule into play after clobbering Frankfort on Thursday.
Cards junior Cooper Robb had a game-high 16 points, all in the first half, on 6-for-11 shooting. He had five of Scott County’s 17 assists.
Scott County reached the finals for the third time in the last four years. The Cards were ranked No. 1 in the latest edition of Dave Cantrall’s Rating the State and gave fans in attendance little reason to doubt they’re worthy of the top spot.
“As much as I hate a 35-point clock, it seems like we get it quite often,” said Coach Billy Hicks. “ … We’ve been playing really good basketball for quite a while now.”
The Cardinals have won their past 17 games starting with an 82-53 decision over Rockcastle County in their Toyota Classic opener on Jan. 18. That’s the third-longest win streak in the state behind Adair County and Bowling Green, each of whom have won 23 straight heading into their respective regional semifinals on Monday night, and Fern Creek, which takes an 18-game win streak into the 6th Region finals on Tuesday.
Scott County will play Lexington Catholic in the finals. Since the Cardinals moved to the 11th Region from the 8th Region in the 2005-06 season, Central Kentucky’s most consistent powerhouses have met just one time in the championship game. Lexington Catholic won that meeting 68-67, in 2009.
“We’ve had one loss this year in the state of Kentucky and it was to Lexington Catholic, the team we gotta beat to get out of the region” said Hicks, referring to a 59-55 defeat at LexCath on Dec. 13. “That’s a pretty big obstacle in your way.”
Hicks went on to describe the rivalry, which he thinks intensified starting with their matchup in the state semifinals in 1998 (an 85-82 Scott County win). Since that meeting, the teams have played 27 times; Scott County has won 14 of those games.
“It’s been tough to win two in a row in this rivalry, so I hope that carries on,” Hicks said with a laugh. “It’s been tough for each of us to win two straight, so maybe it’s our turn.”
Sophomore Michael Moreno finished with eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds for Scott County.
Isaiah Cozart, also a sophomore, led Madison Central with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting and had two blocks.
Scott County 67, Madison Central 39
Mad. Central (19-15) — Gerald 6, Cozart 10, Minter 7, Miller 5, Roberts 6, McKee 5.
Scott Co. (29-5) — Robb 16, Moreno 8, Watts 5, Long 14, Williams 9, Fluker 2, Tucker 3, Allen 7, C. Covington 3.