In Feb. 17 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
Behind sophomore Tyler Robertson's 34 points, Coach Willie Feldhaus' Laker basketball team finally earned the top seed in next week's district tournament as they defeated Metcalfe County 56-53 on the road Saturday.
Russell County, 15-8 overall, finished the district portion of the regular season 5-1 and will now play Cumberland County on Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Metcalfe County High School.
"Our kids played their hearts out really," Feldhaus said.
Robertson, the Lakers' leading scorer, was on fire from the field Saturday night as he torched the Hornets on 13-23 field goal shooting, with seven of those field goals coming courtesy of the three point shot.
"I don't know what you can say," Feldhaus said about Robertson's performance. "They way he is hounded and is still able to do that. To add to that he also ties us in rebounds with six and does so many little things also. He is special."
As a team, Russell County finished shooting 44 percent from the field and outrebounded the much taller Hornets, who were led by 6-8 twin seniors Grant and Russell Kindred, 26-23.
"I told our kids if we could stay between two or three rebounds of them we'll have a chance," Feldhaus said, as he talked about how proud he was of his team's performance off the glass.
Feldhaus said his team went to a 2-3 zone as the game progressed to try and stop any three-point looks for Hornet perimeter shooters Dylan Harris and Logan Matney, while also clogging up the inside where the Kindreds liked to bang.
Sophomore Barton Mann tallied eight points and six rebounds on the night, including two big free throws late in the fourth quarter to help seal the Laker win. Junior Blake Aaron finished with seven points and two steals. Senior Martin Cross ended the game with four points and two assists while eighth grader Nick Coffey finished with three points and three steals. Senior Logan Smith came off the bench to grab six rebounds and provide tough defense in 16 minutes of action.
Coach Tim McMurtrey's Hornets were led in scoring by Logan Matney, who came off the bench to score 15 points. Russell Kindred ended with 13 points while Grant Kindred finished with a dozen points and eight rebounds on the night. Dylan Harris scored eight points for the Hornets as well.
With the district one seed wrapped up Feldhaus said it was important to not play Metcalfe again or Clinton County in the opening round as they are playing good basketball, especially the Bulldogs.
"That's nothing against Cumberland County because they took us down to the wire at their place … but I believe the one seed this year was important."
He commented on how proud he was of his seniors, Martin Cross and Logan Smith, for their efforts this year after not seeing much floor time a season ago due to last year's seven man senior class.
In Friday's matchup with Adair County in Columbia, the Lakers downed the Indians by 10, 52-42, led by junior Blake Aaron's 18 points on 6-8 shooting from three-point land. The Lakers, who shot 47 percent from the field, got their first win in Columbia under Feldhaus.
"We'll definitely take a victory over Adair County on their home floor," Feldhaus said. "Adair makes you play the whole 32 minutes and they did a good job. They switched up their defenses in the second quarter and that confused us some and we had both post players on the bench then too, and that didn't help."
Feldhaus said his team didn't play well in the first half but with Aaron knocking down some three-pointers it allowed the Lakers to get a lead early as they outscored the Indians 14-6 in the first quarter.
He said the Lakers domination on the boards, 35-18, also contributed mightily to the double figure road win.
Robertson ended the game with 13 points while Coffey finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Cross tallied four points on the night while Hunter Best finished with three points. Mann finished with two points for Russell County.
The Indians shot 34 percent from the field and did not have a player in double figures. Both Kyle Young and Jordan Young had nine apiece for Adair County.
Monday night saw the Lakers falter on their home floor, though, as they fell to the Barren County Trojans in a rescheduled matchup, 58-56. Robertson led the Lakers in scoring with 27 points and in rebounds with 10 but injured his ankle midway through the final quarter on a drive to the basket and would not return. The Trojans improved to 5-18 on the season with the upset. Barton Mann and Nick Coffey each scored 11 points for the Lakers in the loss.