(CORBIN, Ky.) – After two hard-fought wins over Williamsburg and Knox, Clay County would fail to defend their Cumberland Falls Invitational Championship as they fell 70-60 to an undefeated 11-0 John Hardin team. Connor Robinson led the Tigers with a strong 21-point effort in the loss.
The Tigers would find themselves in an uphill battle all night, as they held the lead for only mere seconds in the 3rdquarter. Down 24-15 at the end of the first, then 33-29 at halftime. Clay would grab the lead at 34-33, only to be responded to by a John Hardin 10-point run that would give the final lead change. Clay County would bring it within two points later in the fourth.
Coach Glenn Gray wasn’t happy with the outcome, but knows it made his team better. “We faced the best team we’ve played this season thus far,” said Gray. “We had three tough games straight, while they had a cupcake first game. We played two very physical games then a great team like that (John Hardin). I think it’s great for us to have this type of games’ this early in the season. I was very happy with our effort as a team.”
Evan Langdon and Jacob Curry continued their solid offensive efforts as of late, as Langdon knocked in 17 hard earned points, while Curry added a blue collar 10-point effort. Connor Farmer would toss in seven, Tate Farmer three, and Jakob Begley two.
A huge basket from Connor Farmer would edge the Tigers past a very talented Knoxville Catholic team for a 56-55 victory in the semifinal round of the Cumberland Falls Invitational. Clay would hold Knoxville scoreless in the 4th quarter to put the finishing touch on a much-needed win for the Tigers. For those who had doubts about the Tigers defensive ability, those doubts can be silenced on this occasion.
The Tigers would find themselves with a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. Knoxville Catholic’s athleticism proved to be tough to handle early on for the Tigers, however Clay would counter with its speed. Both teams committed 12 turnovers each, proving that this contest boiled down to who wanted it more. The Tigers would lead 32-29 going into the half.
Jacob Curry has been on fire as of late, continuing his hot streak against Knoxville. Curry would pour in 19 points to lead the team in scoring. The three-headed monster of Curry, (Connor) Robinson (15 pts) and (Evan) Langdon (13pts) once again reared its head and made for three double-digit scorers. When this trio has reached double figures, the Tigers have a shot to win.
As time winded down in the 3rd quarter, the Tigers found themselves in a bind. Down 44-39 with four minutes to go, Clay needed to apply pressure and didn’t. Knoxville would go ahead 55-44 to lead by 11 as the fourth quarter began. That’s when the Tigers defense came alive. Knoxville Catholic wouldn’t score another point for the remainder of the contest, while the Tigers would roar back to win the game as time expired, forcing Catholic to miss under the goal. Connor Farmer would give the Tigers the go-ahead basket, while also adding six points in the victory. Jakob Begley would add three points as well.
After the win, Coach Gray reflected on how playing in the King of the Bluegrass helped the Tigers in a game such as this. “This was a very hard-fought game, both ways,” said Gray. “I believe that playing in the King of the Bluegrass last week really helped us overcome the sheer athleticism Knoxville brought to the table. Seeing a lot of size and athleticism recently played a huge factor in our preparation for Knoxville Catholic. We hope it helps us as the season wears on.”
In their first act of defending their 2018 Cumberland Falls Invitational Championship, the Tigers slid by a talented Williamsburg squad 74-70 to move ahead in tournament play. Key free throws down the stretch were crucial said Coach Glenn Gray, as stingy defense tightened things up late in the game. “Their press in the 4th quarter applied quite a bit of pressure on us,” said Gray. “We overcame it and got away with a good win. Williamsburg is a good ball club.”
Jacob Curry would explode for 27 points, shooting 10-14 from the field and 4-8 behind the arc. The sharpshooting senior is capable of scoring in droves if left open, and he did just that Saturday night. Connor Robinson remained his usual efficient self, contributing 22 points and seven boards. Evan Langdon would also score in double digits, tossing in 13 points and seven boards for his second consecutive double-double performance.
Clay seemingly would get ahead of themselves, rather than slowing down and making good decisions at times. “We played a little careless,” said Gray. “It’s like we try to shoot a 20-point shot at times when we’re ahead. We tend to shoot ourselves in the foot when we get a lead. We have to figure out how to get ahead and stay ahead. Once we can slow down and figure that out, we’re going to be a very dangerous ball club.”
The Tigers had contribution from all areas, as numerous Clay players found their way on the score sheet. Raven Abner would add five points and would also suffer an ankle injury that will sideline him for a few weeks. Connor Farmer, Jakob Begley, and Tate Farmer would add two points each. Landon Hensley tossed in one point in the victory.