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LEXINGTON — After hanging with its opponent for the first half, the Oldham County High School boys’ basketball team couldn’t handle the flood of points that came next.
Scott County quickly expanded a slim halftime lead, going on a big run in the third quarter to defeat the Colonels 56-43 Saturday in the quarterfinals of the KHSAA Sweet 16 state tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
The game was OCHS’ third in three days, after defeating Bowling Green Thursday in the first round and Knott County Central Friday in the quarterfinals.
“We talked about before the game, if we couldn’t keep them off the glass, we were gonna have a long night with ‘em,” OCHS Coach Jason Holland said. “They were a lot more aggressive than us, especially in the third quarter and stretched the lead out.
“Opportunities were there, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to.”
The Cardinals used a 24-10 run in the third quarter to take a commanding 47-26 lead after three quarters, prompting well over half of the 11,409 in attendance to head for the exits.
“When they came out, they really punched us,” OCHS senior forward Kerry Smith said. “They stepped on the pedal and we had to step it up and try to make the best of it.”
But the Colonels didn’t quit.
OCHS responded with a 15-6 run to pull within 53-41 with 2:25 to play, prompting cheers from the Colonels’ players on the bench and their fans in the end zone.
“I kept telling (my teammates) ‘Don’t quit,’” senior guard Sam Gruber said. “It’s a terrible memory if we do quit after making it all the way here. It’s not in our nature to give up and roll over. You’ve gotta keep going.”
But OCHS would get no closer.
After Colonels senior forward Tyler Wesley picked up his fifth and final foul with 1:30 remaining, OCHS coach Jason Holland substituted for the other four starters as well.
For the second game in a row, Wesley had trouble finding success. Though he made the game-winning shot in the quarterfinals Friday, he had just three points and one rebound. Wesley did have three blocks.
Smith helped fill the void with a game-high 17 points, but even he couldn’t compensate for the Colonels being outrebounded 32-17.
The Colonels’ historic season ends at 31-5, but Holland said he’s proud to have been a part of the team that took OCHS back to the state semi-finals for the first time since 1985.
“The biggest thing is the work they put in,” Holland said. “The season is just so long. They were going hard in May, June and July and their commitment says a lot about who they are. These will be memories they’ll never forget.”
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