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NEW CASTLE – Junior guard Kerry Smith found a free path to the basket to score on a layup and draw a foul with 23 seconds left to give the Oldham County High School Colonels a 54-51 win over Simon Kenton in the first round of the Eighth Region tourney Wednesday.
Smith's basket gave broke a 51 all tie and hit free throw gave the Colonels the cushion they needed as OCHS' defense prevented the Pioneers from getting off an open, final shot.
The Colonels, 23-7, beat co-regional favorite Simon Kenton for the second time in a month, but had to struggle late after building a 14-point lead in the opening stages of the second half.
OCHS opened the second half with eight straight points to lead 37-23 before Simon Kenton battled their way back into the game behind the offense of senior guard Cody Chambers and a 2-2-1 press that baffled the Colonels and stalled their offense.
The Pioneers slowly chipped away at the lead until Matt Reilly hit a three-pointer off the right wing to tie the game at 51 with 55.6 seconds left.
The Colonels answered with Smith's three-point play on the next trip down, the were able to stop Simon Kenton from getting off a good shot in the final seconds as an off-balance three from Andrew Sampson was way off the mark as the horn sounded.
Smith scored 10 points for the Colonels. Senior forward Nolan Denise led OCHS with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The win advances the Colonels to the semifinals where they will take on Henry County at 6 p.m. Monday.
The regional finals are set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Henry County.