For The Independent
When Woodford County was pressed for the first time during the three-day tournament, the Yellow Jackets had their own ‘Big 3’ to step up and win a championship.
Woodford County scored the first 15 points of the game but had to hold off a determined Elliott County team down the stretch to win, 73-66, claiming the Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital Holiday Classic title at the Greenhouse.
The senior backcourt trio of Grayson Graf, Samuel Souers and Eli Boggess each hit double-figures for the Yellow Jackets (8-4).
Every time the Lions got close, the senior guards made a play to thwart an Elliott County comeback.
It is something Woodford County coach Scott Hundley can rely on when the games get tight.
“When you have senior guards, you have to trust them and hope they made the right decisions,” said Hundley, a former Kentucky Mr. Basketball and Vanderbilt star.
Boggess scored 24 points to earn him the Player of the Game honors. Graf contributed 19 and hit three from behind the arc. Souers added 17. They were a combined 5-of-6 from the foul line in the final minutes to ice away the victory.
“Our guys did a good job tonight,” Hundley said. “They knew who should get the ball to make the free throws at the end of the game.”
After the Yellow Jackets shot out to the early double-digit lead, Elliott County reeled off 11 points over the last 90 seconds of the first quarter to trim the deficit to six.
The Lions grabbed a one-point lead in the second period after receiving a much-needed energy boost from their bench.
Freshman Chase Porter sparked the rally with 13 straight points during a three-minute stretch. He led the Lions with 23 points.
“Chase did what we see him do in practice every day,” Elliott County coach Greg Adkins said. “It was just a matter of time before it transferred to the varsity game.”
Elliott County (9-4) needed big contributions from its reserves because star guard Logan Nickell could not find the range early.
Isaiah (Griffith) had some big shots for us and (Jonathan) Sloas gives us energy every game and gets us going,” Adkins said. “When we get him in the game, he will make something happen for us. He is a big key to this team.”
Nickell hit some big shots late to finish with 15 points.
“I was proud of the way we fought back to put us in a position to have a chance to win,” Adkins said.
Woodford County plays in the 11th Region, considered one of the toughest in the state. Hundley was interested to see how his team would match up with the teams of our area.
“When you come down here, it is a different style of ball,” Hundley said. “The teams are really good, scrappy-type teams. In our region, teams rely on their athleticism, but in this region you have to play smart because they can really shoot the ball down here.”