If somebody is sleepwalking, it's best to shake them out of their slumber.
That's what Scott County assistant Matt Walls tried to do for the somnambulant Cardinals in their first-round Sweet Sixteen game against Marshall County in Rupp Arena on Thursday night.
Scott County trailed the more aggressive, more spirited Marshals 27-20 at halftime, and Walls, a fiery leader on the Cards' 2007 state title team, couldn't stand it.
Just before the team took the court for the second half, Walls let loose with several high-decibel words of — ahem — encouragement.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It must have worked.
Scott County blitzed Marshall County 21-7 in the third quarter on its way to a 59-46 victory in the 95th PNC/ KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.
"I just wanted them to come out and play hard. I mean it's the state tournament," Walls said. "I've been here and I felt like they needed to wake up a little bit."
Isaiah Ivey certainly got the message. The senior left-hander had 13 points in the third-quarter turnaround, making tough shot after tough shot.
The Gardner-Webb signee finished with 19 points and earned National Guard player of the game honors.
Cards Coach Billy Hicks chuckled about that, joking that the "National Guard guy must've been eating a hamburger" while Ivey struggled through a two-point first half.
"But in the last month and a half, Isaiah has played as good as anybody in the state," Hicks added.
Marshall County outplayed Scott County in the first half, spreading the floor and taking the ball to the rim. Chase Clark was most effective and had 11 points at the break.
"They beat us about every way you can beat a basketball team," Hicks said. "I think it surprised our team. They really put us back on our heels."
The Cards grabbed the momentum when Trent Gilbert drilled a three-pointer to open the second half. That seemed to energize the 11th Region champs. Ivey began pouring in shots, and the Cards went on a devastating 34-8 run that included 5-for-7 long-range shooting.
Marshall County lost control of the tempo, and the Cards eventually led by as many as 20 points (55-35).
"They got loose, and an all-stater (Ivey) made all-state plays," Marshall County Coach Gus Gillespie said.
"We thought if (Scott County's lead) got over eight, it'd get ugly, and that's what happened."
Tamron Manning, another senior all-stater for Scott County and a Marshall University signee, had 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Junior point guard Quin Richardson contributed nine points and three assists. Senior Josh Harris had eight points, and Gilbert hit a pair of second-half threes.
Clark led Marshall County with 13 points and four rebounds. Cole Nelson had 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Scott County has won its first-round game in its last nine state tournament appearances. Did Walls' halftime "speech" help the Cards sidestep an upset?
"We listen to Matt," Manning said. "He's somebody who's sees it from the perspective of a player and coach.
"He's good at getting us fired up. He got in our faces a little bit, and I think we responded pretty well."