In Feb. 26 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
In Monday night's first round of the 16th district basketball tournament, the 22-5 Russell County Lakers defeated the Metcalfe County Hornets in a highly competitive game, 70-57, and now turn their focus toward the district title game on Friday at 7 p.m. against Cumberland County who defeated Clinton County on Tuesday.
The atmosphere inside Cumberland County High School was crazy as the teams traded baskets and went on mini-runs on each other throughout, with the game even being tied at halftime at 33-33.
"I think they've improved a lot," Coach Willie Feldhaus said of the Hornets, whom his team had defeated twice earlier in the season. "I think they played well and the first half they absolutely took it to us and manhandled us on the boards."
He said if someone would have told him before the game that the Hornets would have outrebounded his team by double figures in the first half he would imagine being down significantly, not tied at the break.
"I give (Metcalfe) credit," he said. "They're not going to be fun to play the next two or three years."
Going into the second half, Feldhaus said he told his players that they were going to have to continue finding ways to score and attack the Hornet defense.
"We were very fortunate with Robbie (Bell) to be able to get three buckets in a row at one time (in the final minutes) and Zach Carney had a whale of a ballgame with 19 points and nine rebounds. Those two guys were warriors for us down low," Feldhaus said.
Four Lakers scored in double figures, led by junior big man Zach Carney's 19 points on 7-10 shooting. Junior point guard Bryson McFall scored 17 points and hit several crucial shots down the stretch.
Senior Bryon Ellis and junior Robbie Bell both scored 10 points apiece. Ellis also dished out a team-high four assists. Adam Justice scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds for the Lakers. Lucas Justice scored three points and Tyler Robertson scored two points in the win.
"It took all of that to get a win tonight," Feldhaus said. The Lakers shot 54 percent from the field for the game while the Hornets shot just 45 percent.
The Hornets did outscore the Lakers in the paint, 40-38, for the game but the Lakers opened up the floor a bit more and hit some 15-18 ft. jump shots in the final minutes.
Metcalfe County was led in scoring by Russell Kindred with 17 points and Grant Kindred with 16 points. Dylan Harris scored 13 points while Trevor Meredith scored nine points for the Hornets. Thomas Bell also scored a basket for the Hornets.
The Laker coach said his team would practice Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the 16th district championship game at 7 p.m. on Friday at Cumberland County High School in Burkesville.