High School Basketball

‘They beat us in every form and fashion.’ No. 1 team shows it can take a punch.

Scott County's Michael Moreno blocks the shot by Bryan Station's Jalen Burbage at Bryan Station gym in Lexington, Ky., Monday, January 22, 2018.
Scott County's Michael Moreno blocks the shot by Bryan Station's Jalen Burbage at Bryan Station gym in Lexington, Ky., Monday, January 22, 2018.

Kentucky’s No. 1 boys’ basketball team was on the ropes at halftime, but you wouldn’t know that if all you saw was the final score.

Scott County, ranked first in the latest Cantrall Ratings, ratcheted up its defense and rallied from 12 points down to take a 72-58 decision at No. 6 Bryan Station in front of a capacity crowd on Monday night. The Cardinals (19-1) stayed unbeaten against Kentucky competition while handing the Defenders (17-2) their first in-state loss this season.

Bryan Station built a 40-28 lead at the break — Eric “Boss” Boone got a steal at midcourt and dunked as the halftime buzzer sounded — but didn’t score again until there was 4:03 left in the third quarter. The Cardinals in the interim used a 13-0 run to take their first lead since the start of the second quarter and never trailed again.

“I don’t think we were ready tonight for what Bryan Station brought at us that first half,” said Cardinals Coach Billy Hicks, who improved his state-record win total to 960. “They played so hard and killed us on the boards. They beat us off the dribble. They beat us in every form and fashion and, God, Boone, he played like an all-world player.”

Scott County scored 20 points off 14 turnovers by Station and had an 18-6 advantage in second-chance opportunities. After shooting nearly 50 percent in the first half the Defenders were 6-for-22 (27.3 percent) from the field over the final 16 minutes; the Cardinals went 15 of 29 (51.7 percent) after an 11-for-34 team effort in the first half.

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Bryan Station's Eric Boone shoots against Scott County's Michael Moreno at Bryan Station gym in Lexington, Ky., Monday, January 22, 2018. Matt Goins

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Scott County's Michael Moreno shoots against Bryan Station at Bryan Station gym in Lexington, Ky., Monday, January 22, 2018. Matt Goins

Boone, a senior guard whose recruitment is starting to pick up, finished the game with 25 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Michael Moreno matched Boone with 25 points for the Cardinals while pulling down 19 boards.

Moreno, a 6-foot-6 junior with offers from Iowa, Eastern Kentucky and Bradley, added six blocks and four assists. His all-around stat line was impressive, but it was the intensity shown by senior Glenn Covington to start the third quarter that helped turn the tide for the Cardinals.

Covington, the primary defender on Boone, ended the night with 15 points and five rebounds. After the game he was presented an MVP plaque by PrepSpin.com, which broadcast the contest online.

“We were very upset (at halftime),” Covington said. “I had to talk to our guys a little bit and get us going. It was all on me cause I was guarding Boone and he was doing everything.”

Moreno said Hicks told them at halftime to have a sense of urgency out of the gate and that they looked sluggish in the first half. Hicks challenged his star player at halftime, too.

“Coach really got into me and was telling me he’d never seen a guy as big as me miss as many shots as I missed,” Moreno said with a laugh. “That kind of pissed me off so I had to do something about that.”

Bryan Station plays at Sayre (8-12) on Tuesday. Scott County’s next game is at home against Frederick Douglass (9-8) on Friday.

“Losing is tough, and our guys take losing tough,” Station Coach Tommy Johnson said. “We’re together. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We can’t hold onto this too much longer ’cause we’ve got Sayre tomorrow. These guys are resilient, they’ll bounce back.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

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