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The bench speaks

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By The Staff

NEW CASTLE - An early run sparked by an unlikely starter and an unlikely lineup gave the Oldham County Colonels the early push they needed to beat Henry County 62-43 in the opening round of the Henry County Invitational Tuesday.

With senior center Matt Day scoring 12 of his 14 points in the first half and big contributions off the bench from Mike Gasser and Matt Hogue, they got out to a 15-2 lead in the game's first five minutes.

"We did that with kind of an odd lineup," OCHS coach Gary Forrest said. "I thought Mike and Hogue came in and really gave us a spark there."

Gasser hit a three-pointer off the left wing for the Colonels while Hogue hit two elbow jumpers and grabbed three rebounds early.

But it was the inspired play of the 6-foot-4 Day early that got the Colonels rolling.

In the Colonels' opening 15-2 run, Day scored 10 of those points in a variety of ways.

Day put the Colonels up 4-0 with a backdoor layup off a pass from Grant Ruble. After Henry County's Joey Pollard scored off a drive in the lane, Day followed his own miss.

On the ensuing trip down the floor, Day tipped a pass away at the top of the key then chased the ball down to the opposite key, scooped it up and hit a layup to give the Colonels an 8-2 lead.

After a Henry County timeout, Day stayed hot, hitting a turnaround jumper from just inside the foul line. A Matt Moore steal led to a three-pointer off the left wing from Ruble after Day rebounded Moore's driving miss and fanned the ball back out to Ruble.

Day closed the run with 2:03 left in the first period with a postup shot for the 15-2 lead.

"Matt did a nice job at both ends for us there and he did it by keeping his hands up and keeping them active," Forrest said.

Henry County came back to score five quick points before Gasser closed the period with his three-pointer to leave the Colonels up 18-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The Colonels opened the second period with an 8-0 scoring run as Eric Dunlap came up with a steal and fed Ruble for a breakaway layup. Billie Payne scored on a spinning move in the lane, then hit a six-footer in the lane. Dunlap, who finished with 13 points and five assists, closed the run with a drive down the baseline to put the Colonels up 26-7.

"That was a pretty good run there and we did it by playing good defense and by taking care of the ball," Forrest said. "Of all the things we did well tonight, I thought we did a very good job of handling the ball and not turning it over."

The Colonels committed a season low 10 turnovers in the contest.

Henry County, however, had a final run in them as the Wildcats came back to cut the lead to six at 39-33 points with a 9-2 scoring run with two minutes left in the third period. The run came against a 2-3 zone employed by the Colonels as they went away from their traditional man-to-man look.

"We stayed in the zone a little too long," Forrest said. "They hit a couple of shots and got back in it. The zone was good early."

The Colonels answered quickly off the offensive boards when Day and Dunlap both hit follow shots to close the period and give OCHS a 43-33 lead.

The Colonels pushed the lead back to 47-33 on a drive in the lane and two free throws from Payne and were never challenged again.

OCHS - 18 13 12 18 62 - Eric Dunlap 13, Grant Ruble 11, Billie Payne 8, Matt Moore 3, Matt Day 14, Matt Hogue 6, Mike Gasser 3, Brandon Cook 4, 62.

HENRY COUNTY - 7 11 15 10 43 - Ben Roberts 17, Joey Pollard 8, Cody Hinkle 7, Jaccari Baldwin 7, Stan Tillett 3, Connor Jeffries 6, 43.

E-mail us about this story at: sports@oldhamera.com.