George Rogers Clark's reign as the best team in the 40th District is over.
Neighboring Montgomery County ended the Cardinals' seven-year run as district champions with a 66-42 rout of Clark Wednesday night at Norton Gymnasium. Both teams will advance to next week's 10th Region Tournament at Mason County High School.
Although Clark scored the first basket and just trailed 13-9 at the end of the first quarter, the Indians pulled away in the second frame, outscoring the Cards 26-11 to build a 39-20 advantage at the break.
- Cardinals vs Montgomery County District Final photo gallery
- George Rogers Clark forward Khamarkis Blanton drives to the basket during the first half of the Cardinals¿ 66-42 loss to Montgomery County in the finals of the 40th District Tournament Wednesday night at Norton Gymnasium.
- College of William and Mary
The lead blossomed to 29 points in the third quarter before Montgomery County coach Happy Osborne pulled his starters in favor of the reserves for the remainder of the contest.
“They're really good and they're deserving of a Top 5 state ranking,” Clark coach Scott Humphrey said. “They're playing outstanding. The other night, we were lucky to win. Tonight, the better team won.”
Montgomery County standout and William and Mary signee Omar Prewitt finished with a game-high 27 points, combined with seven rebounds, two assists and four blocked shots. Prewitt, who played 22 minutes, made 12 of 18 field goals and scored 17 points in the first half, with 10 of those coming in the second quarter.
“Omar has developed his game tremendously,” Humphrey said. “A couple of years ago, we had a bunch of seniors going against him, but credit him for getting in the weight room (and working hard). He's going to be first-team All-State and a legitimate (candidate) for Mr. Basketball. It's not because of his name or he's been around a while, he has earned it. He's really developed his game and (turned into) an outstanding player. We just didn't have an answer for him.”
Khamarkis Blanton led the Cards with 19 points and completed a double-double with 14 rebounds. Blanton scored 14 of Clark's 20 points in the first half.
Osborne said the Cards “did a really good job dictating tempo” in the first quarter and added the Cards' defensive presence was a disruption at times.
“Clark County is one of the best, if not the best defensive team in our region,” he said. “They did a nice job. In the second and third quarter we picked it up, but early (Humphrey) controlled the tempo and got what he wanted. It obviously had to make us better.”
Montgomery forced the Cards into 19 turnovers and defensive breakdowns by Clark led to easy buckets for the Indians in transition.
“We were trying to change defenses a lot and we had a lack of communication three of four times and every single time, they made us pay,” Humphrey said. “That's what good teams do and that's where we've got to improve dramatically. We have to communicate on defense a lot better than we did (tonight).”
Both teams shift their attention to next week's regional tournament. Clark has won the last two region titles, while Montgomery County is seeking is first crown since 1995.
The Indians, winners of 17 of their past 18 games, enter the tournament with a nine-game winning streak and one of the favorites. Clark, which survived with a 65-60 triumph over Paris to open the postseason, will take on one of three district winners when the tournament begins Monday. Pairings will be announced Saturday.
Clark 09 11 09 13 – 42
Montgomery 13 26 19 08 – 66
CLARK (9-20) — Caudill 3, King 2, Israel 7, Greene 2, Blanton 19, J. Israel 2, Owens 1, Sharrock 6.
MONTGOMERY (28-4) — Piersawl 2, Prewitt 27, Hall 4, Chism 2, D. Jones 11, Wallace 14, Looney 2, T. Combs 4.