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BUCKNER – There’s a good chance Oldham County and Simon Kenton will meet one month from now in New Castle in the Region 8 Tournament. If so, the Colonels will hope to get a similar result to the one they tallied Friday night.
OC used a 33-point fourth quarter to overcome a nine-point deficit and beat the Pioneers 72-65. The Colonels once again featured a balanced attack, with Austin Wills scoring 19 points, Connor Hicks scoring 17, Hayden Hawes pouring in 16 and Austin Perkins adding 14.
OC got a lot of its points on second chance opportunities and took care of the basketball, committing 10 turnovers while Simon made 24.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” coach Coy Zerhusen said. “Simon, they play so hard-nosed, so physical and they try to take you out of what you want to do.
For three quarters, they did that a little bit… Then in the fourth quarter, we said ‘Let’s play to our strengths.’”
Friday’s win marked OC’s first this year against a team in the top four of the Region 8 Litkenhous ratings. OC, which is ranked No. 3 in that ratings system, lost to No. 1 South Oldham last month and had a game against No. 2 Collins canceled for inclement weather. The Pioneers came into Friday No. 4.
“Every time we play this team they’re very, very physical,” Wills said. “We fought through and we got the W.”
OC entered the fourth quarter down 48-39 after being out-scored 18-10 in the third. That quarter ended with Wills being assessed a technical foul for arguing a travel no-call with an official, and Simon’s Alex Childers hitting a 3 to make the margin nine points.
“We looked at the scoreboard, down nine, but we were thinking, ‘It’s not over,’” Hicks said. “They were going to come out thinking it was over, we were going to fight back.”
Hicks hit a 3 off a nice pass from Wills to make the score 48-42. Perkins made strong move to the basket for a layup to cut the margin to four. Hawes scored to make it 48-46.
Simon pushed its lead to 53-48 with a Childers 3, but OC stayed right there with the Pioneers, eventually tying the game at 55 on two Wills free throws.
The Simon defense then left Wills open on OC’s next possession and the senior forward took advantage, nailing a 3 to put the Colonels up 58-55, their first lead since a 34-33 lead early in the third.
OC never gave up that lead.
“Austin had a lapse of judgment, got a little emotional,” Zerhusen said of Wills’ third quarter technical. “But he responded really well… He just needs to go out and make plays. If he just stops worrying about the refs and everything and he just makes plays, he can be an all-region type player.”
Hicks made a big difference on the boards, pulling down seven of his team-high eight rebounds in the second half. He had a big putback off a missed Wills tip late in the fourth to make OC’s lead 62-57.
“My mindset was ‘crash the boards,’” Hicks said. “We were looking at them in warm-ups and they looked fairly big so we were thinking it was going to be a war on the boards. But they came out and didn’t really put a body on us.
Pioneers forward Taylor Morrison led his team with a game-high 21 points Friday.
The Colonels play at Frankfort at 7:30 p.m. Saturday before hosting Western Hills Tuesday.
Simon Kenton – 12, 18, 18, 17 – 65
Oldham County – 11, 18, 10, 33 – 72
Simon Kenton – Morrison 21, Robinson 11, Pracht 9, Vercheak 9, Childers 8, Mullins 5, Heflin 2
Oldham County – Wills 19, Hicks 17, Hawes 16, Perkins 14, McLarty 4, Gates 2
OTHER FRIDAY SCORES
Christian Academy-Louisville 74, North Oldham 60
South Oldham 81, Gallatin County 42
Oldham County 60, Owen County 36
Trimble County 67, North Oldham 44