RUSSELL The Russell student section started chanting, “Warm up the tractors!” when the Red Devils opened the final stanza with a 17-point lead over Greenup County Friday night.
A few seconds later, Brady Bell made sure everyone in the area heard their cries after he hammered home a tomahawk dunk that sent the Russell fans into a frenzy. However, Bell had one more highlight up his sleeve when Griffin Downs lofted a ball toward the rim in transition and Bell did the rest with his second flush of the night.
“The oop was my favorite because it’s my first one in a game,” Bell said when comparing his dunks with a smile.
Behind three players in double figures led by Bell’s 30 points, Russell led wire-to-wire for a 71-50 district win.
“This was a huge win,” Russell coach Derek Cooksey said. “We know that our district is very close now. There’s a lot of rivalries here and we’ve enjoyed those this year but at the same time, we know there’s some tough competition.”
Griffin Downs and Carson Patrick joined Bell with double-digit scoring, netting 22 and 13, respectively.
“Oh, it's definitely important,” Cooksey said of the trio. “People talk about the one-two punch. We know it's important for us to get three. I thought Carson Patrick did a great job on the offensive glass early on and got some easy putbacks. That kind of gets him in the mentality of the scoring mode.”
Patrick led Russell with eight rebounds.
Downs only had nine at the break but found his rhythm in the second half to provide a scoring threat Greenup County had not banked on.
“Statistically, he has not done that a lot,” Greenup County coach Steve Barker said of Downs. “So, we were trying to play the odds there and he just got going. We knew that if we were going to trap Bell out of the zone that we were going to give something else up. The problem is Bell still had his 30 and then he contributed. If they’ve got two guys putting shots in, it makes it really difficult.”
Cooksey said Russell challenged Downs before the game to assert himself as a scoring threat.
“He does a great job of breaking people down and get into the lane area,” Cooksey said. “I thought he a lot of times he might be a pass first, but I thought tonight he really asserted himself offensively.”
Russell closed the first quarter on a 7-2 run for a 19-10 lead. Downs splashed home a triple, Patrick sank a midrange jumper and Bell forced a turnover that led to a layup in transition.
Greenup County answered with a 6-0 run to start the second that cut the Red Devils lead to three with 3:58 to play in the half. However, Greenup County lost starting center Trenton Hannah in the run after reinjuring his ankle going for a rebound. Hannah left the game with six points, which alleviated a matchup problem for the Red Devils.
“I was proud of the fact that we made a 6-0 run,” Barker said. “We hit three shots in a row to cut it to three and then Trenton went down. Then, Carson (Wireman) picked up his third foul not long after that. When you don’t have to two of your guns in there, especially Trenton, because he was fixing to have a really good night.”
Wireman led the Musketeers with 14 points.
Clinging to a 19-16 lead midway through the second, Russell used an 8-2 run out of a timeout to snatch a 27-18 edge at the break. Bell had 10 at the half as Greenup County elected to double-team him any time he touched the ball.
“We located him early,” Barker said of Bell. “You just can’t simulate a kid like him in practice. We had a kid in a red jersey the last two days acting like Brady Bell and we did a good job with him for a half. He’s just something that everybody’s going to reckon with, especially with the district tournament here at Russell.”
Bell’s dunks ignited a rowdy student section standing behind the Russell bench while displaying his ability to consistently play above the rim with ease.
“Those dunks were big because that’s momentum,” Cooksey said. “I felt like we could get out in transition a little bit. Our guys did a great job of pitching the ball ahead and playing off that.”
Russell moves its winning streak to five games and welcomes Ashland Tuesday night.
GREENUP CO. FG FT REB TP
B. Gibson 0-9 2-2 5 2
E. Adkins 0-0 0-0 3 0
Wireman 5-14 2-2 3 14
Barker 5-9 0-0 3 12
Hannah 3-3 0-0 1 6
Bays 5-9 0-0 4 10
Underwood 0-0 2-2 3 2
J. Gibson 0-1 2-2 1 2
B. Adkins 0-0 0-0 0 0
Chandley 1-1 0-1 0 2
TOTAL 19-45 8-9 23 50
FG Pct.: 42.2. FT Pct.: 88.9. 3-pointers: 4-13 (B. Gibson 0-1, Wireman 2-7, Barker 2-4, J. Gibson 0-1). PF: 13. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 15.
RUSSELL FG FT REB TP
Blum 0-4 0-0 1 0
Bell 9-19 9-11 7 30
Downs 10-15 0-0 4 22
Patrick 6-8 1-1 8 13
Rose 1-6 2-4 4 4
Rimmer 1-1 0-0 2 2
McDowell 0-1 0-0 1 0
McClelland 0-0 0-0 1 0
Abdon 0-1 0-0 0 0
Fleming 0-0 0-0 1 0
Gilbert 0-1 0-0 0 0
TOTAL 27-56 12-16 31 71
FG Pct.: 48.2. FT Pct.: 75.0. 3-pointers: 5-16 (Bell 3-6, Downs 2-4, McDowell 0-1, Blum 0-3, Abdon 0-1, Gilbert 0-1). PF:11. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 7.
GREENUP CO. 10 8 10 22 — 50
RUSSELL 19 8 20 24 — 71
Officials: Kenny Kegley, Jeff Callahan, Jeff Adkins.