MAYSVILLE — For the first time in two years a new champion will be crowned in the 10th Region Tournament.
Harrison County ousted two-time defending champion George Rogers Clark High School and advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2005 with a 46-37 triumph over the Cardinals Tuesday night at the Fieldhouse at Mason County High¿School. For the first time since 2005, Clark won’t be one of four teams competing for the title when the tournament resumes Friday night.
The Thorobreds (20-12) will take on Scott High in the second game of a doubleheader set for 8:30 p.m. Friday night in Maysville. The Eagles earned a spot in the finals with a 62-59 victory over Augusta. The Panthers, a postseason Cinderella, made headlines with a 72-61 upset of Mason County in the 39th District Tournament last week. Tournament favorite Montgomery County will play Bishop Brossart in the opener at 6:30 p.m. Friday night.
Clark (9-21) used a strong defensive outing to overshadow an offensive breakdown that occurred during the last three quarters. After scoring 19 points during the first eight minutes, Clark tallied just 18 points during the last three quarters, but never trailed by double digits.
“We gave up some buckets late, but when you hold a team to 46 points, you should be winning games,” Clark coach Scott Humphrey said. “We’ve done that several times during the last month. But we just can’t score.”
Harrison, which trailed 23-20 at the break, opened the second half with a 14-5 run, turning the three-point deficit into a 34-28 advantage with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter. Jordan Stubbs knocked down two 3-pointers during the spurt which gave the Thorobreds their first lead of the contest.
Harrison County led 36-32 at the end of the third quarter. The Thorobreds scored the first four points of the fourth frame and led 40-32 with 5:25 remaining. Clark narrowed the margin to 40-37 with 3:28 left but failed to score the remainder of the contest. Harrison made four of six free throws in the final minute and outscored the Cards 6-0 down the stretch to seal the deal.
“That (Harrison County’s run) goes hand-in-hand the way the season has went,” Humphrey said. “When another team goes on a run, you can normally fight back and overcome that, but offensively it’s so hard for us to score, it just magnifies itself when somebody goes on a run. It takes us forever to score.”
The Cards had the hot-hand early, leading by six twice in the first quarter and even led 19-16 at the end of the quarter. Clark made nine of its 12 field goal attempts in the first eight minutes to build a three-point lead. The Thorobreds narrowed the margin to a field goal at 21-19 in the 5:14 mark of the second quarter, but neither team could get into an offensive rhythm as the Cards held to a 23-20 lead at the half.
“I was proud of the kids,” Humphrey said. “They never had the experience of playing in a regional tournament and they settled right into the game easily. It’s (indicative) of our season, we simply cannot score.”
Luke Sharrock paced Clark with eight points in the first half, while Khamarkis Blanton followed with six. Blanton sat out the last five minutes of the first half after picking up his third foul. He finished with 10 points and Sharrock led Clark in scoring with 11 points.
The loss ended a long season for Clark, which lost 20 or more games for the first time in school history. The team’s record seven-year reign as 40th District champions also came to an end following a 66-42 setback to Montgomery County last week.
“We have to get better in the summer,” Humphrey said. “We’re going to take a couple of weeks off, but we have to get in the weight room and we have to be better on the perimeter shooting the basketball. We hit a three tonight, but in four of our (previous) five games we had not made a three-pointer. We start three guys under six-foot (tall). It’s very hard to overcome that on the offensive end of the floor. I’ve got some kids who will put in the time (to get better), but we have to work our tail-end off, because to come down here in this environment and win three games, you not only have to be skilled, you’ve got to have mental toughness. We really didn’t have that this year until the last month. We let way too many days get by (in practice) and it caught up to us.”
Clark 19 04 09 05 — 37
Harrison 16 04 16 10 — 46
CLARK (9-21) — Warner 2, Caudill 7, King 4, M. Israel 3, Blanton 10, Sharrock 11.
HARRISON (20-12) — Martin 3, Stubbs 10, Wagner 6, Pulliam 17, Kendall 8, Gross 3.