The Commander basketball team found itself in its second overtime game through just three contests last Friday, and pulled out their first win of the year against 19th District newcomer Thomas Nelson, 75-74. Washington County was right back at it on Saturday, suffering a 78-39 loss at the hands of the Bardstown Tigers. Last week’s games were the first of 10 district matchups for the Commanders this year, and they’ll meet the rest of the district – Nelson County and Bethlehem – this week.
Washington County @ Bardstown
Score: 78-39 Bardstown
When: Saturday, Dec. 8
Where: Bardstown High School
Key players: WCHS - Alex Marshall, Morgan Churchill
Game highlights: Washington County’s loss on Saturday was decided early, with the Tigers jumping out to a 19-10 lead after one quarter, and taking a 39-22 lead into intermission.
“Bardstown makes you do things you don’t want to do and they take you out of your offense,” said Commander Head Coach Russell Burkhead. “I thought we hit a wall and once it started snowballing it just went that way.”
The Tigers outscored the Commanders 22-10 in the third quarter to pull out to a commanding 29-point lead entering the fourth quarter, before coasting to a convincing win.
Senior Alex Marshall led the way with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting with four rebounds. Junior Morgan Churchill added seven points and five rebounds in the loss.
The Commanders shot 43.3 percent from the field, while hitting 13-of-25 free throws and committing a season-high 27 turnovers.
Washington County @ Thomas Nelson
Score: 75-74 Washington County (Overtime)
When: Friday, Dec. 7
Where: Thomas Nelson High School
Key players: WCHS - Alex Marshall TNHS - Cameron Morgeson
Game highlights: Friday’s game at Thomas Nelson was a much different story, as Washington County took every shot the Generals threw at them and came away with their first win of the year.
“It’s huge,” Burkhead said of starting the district slate off with a win. “Especially when you consider how we’ve done in the district the last two or three years, to get that first one is just big. You’ve got to give the kids credit, because they battled their butts off. There were times we could have laid down and not won that game.”
Thomas Nelson got out to a hot start behind sophomore Cameron Morgeson, who poured in 12 points in the opening quarter to lead the Generals to an early 18-13 lead.
The second quarter belonged to Marshall and the Commanders, as the senior went on a tear that saw him score 10-straight points for Washington County on his way to a 15-point quarter. WC used the rally to take a 38-37 lead into halftime.
After battling to a 19-19 deadlock in the third quarter, the Generals evened the score at 66 late in the fourth quarter, but the Commanders had a chance to win the game in the final seconds.
Junior Sean Lewis got off a baseline jumper for the win, but couldn’t get it to go, sending WC to its second overtime game of the young season.
Thomas Nelson claimed the lead early in overtime, but with less than 20 seconds remaining and his team trailing by one point, Marshall sliced through the lane and hit a tough basket to put WC on top, drawing a foul in the process.
Marshall’s free throw was off the mark, but the Generals’ attempt at the buzzer was as well, and Washington County held on to big district win.
Marshall finished with 36 points on 7-of-12 shooting (4-of-8 from three and 10-12 at the free-throw line) and added six rebounds. Burkhead pointed out that if not for foul trouble, Marshall had a shot at breaking a quarter century old Commander record.
“I’m almost positive Kevin Ellery has the single-game scoring record here with 45 points. Alex scored 36 and only played about half of the second half, so he had a shot at it,” he said. “That’s the Alex we’ve got to have every game.”
Tylyn Byas scored 12 for WC, followed by junior Jared Young’s nine and junior Thomas Pettus’ eight. Young pulled down seven boards, while senior Markuise Stateman led the way with five assists. Pettus added four steals on the defensive side.
Although they were held to just 35.6 percent shooting on the day, WC committed just 10 turnovers in the win.
The Commanders hosted Nelson County on Tuesday night after press time and will be the first game of a boy-girl doubleheader at home against Bethlehem on Friday at 6 p.m. Berea comes to town on Saturday, with the varsity game to follow the 6 p.m. junior varsity matchup.