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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
It can’t be easy for an army to prepare for battle knowing that they will be without their most effective weapon. The Washington County Commanders are facing four district contests in the next 10 days, and they must fight for every win with their leading scorer and rebounder, John Hamilton, out for six weeks with bone contusions in his left knee.
“Doctors told him probably four to six weeks. Hopefully we can get him back with us sooner than that,” said head coach Paul Bodenhamer. “We hope to get him back on his feet before the district tournament.”
Hamilton has been strong in the post for WC, averaging 24.1 minutes per game while notching 12.9 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and shooting 71.8 percent from the free-throw line.
For a team that has been struggling all season, the Commanders simply can’t afford to lose their top player. Bodenhamer is looking to his bench in hopes that someone will rise to the challenge.
“Matt Hale has been really consistent for us,” Bodenhamer said. “He’s not our fastest kid or our best shooter, but he always seems to be in the right spot doing the right thing. Every time he’s on the floor, we feel confident.”
Senior Lee Mudd is averaging 12.2 ppg, as he leads the team with 122 points.
One player who has really stepped up lately is freshman Trae Abell. During the Marion County Christmas Tournament, Abell hit six three-pointers against the team from Wanneroo, Australia and totaled 21 points on the night.
“Trae’s minutes are starting to go up,” Bodenhamer said. “He was getting six or eight a game, but the last couple of games I think he had 25 and 27 minutes. We expect him to get in there and give us quality minutes and average 18 to 20 minutes a game.”
Through the first 10 games, opponents have outscored WC 692-566, averaging 69.2 ppg to the Commanders’ 56.6 average. WC has shot 38.3 percent from the floor, while opponents are shooting 46.6 percent.
Opponents also have the edge in rebounds, steals and turnovers. Opponents have out-rebounded the Commanders by an average of 33.7 per game to 27.5 for WC. On average, opponents steal the ball 11.8 times per game while Washington County averages 7.4 steals. Opponents average 15.7 turnovers per game, while WC turns the ball over 18.4 times per game.
With a big chunk of their district schedule approaching, the Commanders have to put everything together to improve on their 0-1 district record.
“We’ve got to get out of the last place spot,” added Bodenhamer.
“Bethlehem’s got one up on us, but the way our district works is the second game matters most when it comes to tie-breakers. Next time we face Bethlehem, we’ve got to make sure we beat them. It’s also important to try to sneak one or two away from Nelson County or Bardstown to stay out of that fourth place spot. We just need to settle down and play our game. The next three weeks are a huge part of our season.”
Washington County resumed their schedule on Jan. 6 at home against Bardstown. Details were not available at press time, but check out the sports section at www.readthesun.com for highlights.
This Friday, the Commanders take on the Bethlehem Eagles in Bardstown. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Then it’s another district match-up on Tuesday night as WC travels back to Bardstown to face off against Nelson County at 7:30 p.m.
Catch all the action this Friday night as Washington County visits Bethlehem for a boy/girl doubleheader starting at 6 p.m. If you don’t want to travl to Bardstown for the games, tune in to WYSB 102.7 FM for live coverage, starting with the pre-game show at 5:45 p.m.
For a run-down of all Washington County hoops action, plus additional game photos and video visit www.readthesun.com on the Internet.