By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
When the opening round of the 19th District tournament started last Wednesday at Bethlehem High School in Bardstown, Nelson County came in as the top seed with a 6-1 district record and a 17-8 overall mark. But costly turnovers by the Washington County Commanders only served to aid the Cards in a decisive 60-36 first-round win. For Nelson County, they would go on to knock off Bardstown for the district championship, 66-41.
For the Commanders, the loss ended their season at 4-20 on the year. It’s not the outcome the Commanders were hoping for when the season started, but head coach Russell Burkhead, despite the outcome, saw a lot of positive things come out of Washington County’s showing last Wednesday.
“Compared to where we started to where we ended up, we’ve gotten better as a basketball team this year,” said Burkhead. “They gave me everything they had. I wouldn’t trade this team for anything. Our five seniors set the foundation for what we want to do here. They’re not only five excellent players, but they’re also five outstanding young men. This doesn’t stop with the end of this season. The younger guys have to carry it on.”
From the start, the Cardinals set the pace of the game, controlling the ball and taking advantage of points off of turnovers.
“Nelson County is a heck of a basketball team,” added Burkhead. “I still think they are the dark horse to win the region. It’s on their floor and coach (Artie) Braden’s kids do a great job of running what he wants to run and they just take you out of what you want to do.”
That’s exactly what the Cards did to open the game, drawing first blood with a three-pointer by junior guard Bryce Greer to put the first points on the board. A bucket by Quinten Brooks and a free throw by Ricky Ricketts put Nelson up 6-0 in the opening minute and a half of play.
A two-point shot by WC junior Ben Simms got the Commanders on the board at the 5:39 mark. Another trey by Greer and a basket by Ricketts put the Cards up 13-2. WC fought back with a six-point run, capped off by a three-pointer by senior Joseph Hamilton as time expired in the quarter.
See more of this story in this week's Springfield Sun.