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GOSHEN – Oldham County celebrated its third straight district title over South Oldham at this time last season. The Colonels were going into the Region 8 tournament as a favorite to get back to the Boys Sweet 16 for the third straight year.
But they met South again in the Region 8 title game and in that meeting the Dragons came out on top, advancing to state for the first time with a 58-48 win.
Friday OC celebrated its fourth straight region title with a 74-67 win over South at North Oldham. But Colonel forward Austin Perkins knows his team may not have seen the last of the Dragons.
“I want to get back in that region final, and we’ll most likely end up seeing South once again,” Perkins said. “It’ll probably be just like a rematch of last year… We want to go back to state.”
The teams have split the season series 1-1, with South (19-4) winning the regular season meeting 62-58 in January and OC (22-6) taking the district rematch 74-67 Friday night.
The draw for next week’s region tournament is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The tournament starts Wednesday at Henry County.
OC will meet Collins, Henry County or Simon Kenton in the first round. South will play Shelby County, Owen County or Grant County.
Dragons coach Steve Simpson saw the similarities between this year and last, but said his team wasn’t talking about it Friday night.
“This group likes to win and they didn’t really want to hear that tonight,” Simpson said.
Gates steps up for Oldham
Jordan Gates came into this week’s District 29 tournament averaging 3.5 points per game.
That number was lower than the averages for OC’s other four regular starters – Hayden Hawes, Connor Hicks, Austin Perkins and Austin Wills.
But with Wills off the team due to a rules violation, someone had to make up for his lost production. Gates, a senior guard, stepped in and took charge.
He scored 17 points Thursday in OC’s 66-48 district semifinal win over North Oldham. Then Friday he had nine points, three assists and three rebounds in the Colonels’ 74-67 win over South in the district title game.
Gates was named alongside Hicks and Perkins as an OC representative to the all-district team. Hawes, who scored a game-high 27 points Friday, was named tournament MVP.
“In the locker room before the game, he told me, ‘This is my last go-around, I’m going to leave everything I’ve got out there,’” Hicks, a junior guard, said of Gates. “In his head, he didn’t have confidence a lot, it’s something he’s struggled with. But I told him he has the capability of being a big scorer for us.”
Gates made several big plays for the Colonels Friday, including hitting a basket when the game was tied at 19, starting a 10-2 second quarter run that ended with OC up 29-21. South never cut the margin closer than four points from that point forward.
Gates also came up with a huge defensive play with a minute left in the game, swiping the ball from Dragon point guard Jonathan Blair and passing ahead to Hayden Hawes, who was fouled. Hawes hit an ensuing free throw to make the Colonel lead 69-61.
Hawes puts on MVP performance
Hayden Hawes saved one of his biggest games of the year for a battle against his old school Friday.
Hawes, the OC point guard, went to South his freshman year before transferring to the school five miles east on KY-146 before his sophomore year.
Friday he dashed the Dragons’ district hopes with a 27-point performance that impressed the coach of his old school.
“He’s been playing real well,” Simpson said of Hawes. “He’s a nice player. He’s kind of taken on more of a scoring load now that their personnel has changed a little bit.
“…He’s tough to stay in front of. That was the first thing on our scouting report but the last thing that we did.”
Hawes has handled point guard duties for OC this season, a move coach Coy Zerhusen made before the year to allow Hicks to move to the wing. Hawes has more than settled into his role running the Colonel offense, his coach said.
“When his head is there, he’s as good as anybody in this region,” Zerhusen said of Hawes. “He’s so strong and can control the ball. That was a heck of a game.
“He was cramping up at the end. I don’t think I took him out. So that’s just a game that leaders have to do and we needed that from him.”