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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
The Washington County Commanders closed out the 2008-09 basketball season Wednesday with a 34-21 loss to Bardstown in the first round of the 19th District Tournament. Bardstown will meet the winner of Thursday night’s game between Nelson County and Bethlehem in the district final on Saturday.
The Commanders started the first quarter with a different pace than fans are used to. They held the ball more in an attempt to limit Bardstown’s possession and to find the right shot. In fact, almost five minutes went by in the quarter before anyone scored.
Bardstown got on the board first with a three-point shot by T.J. Downs, who went to the free throw line on an alex Simms foul. Downs sank both shots to put the Tigers up 5-0 with two minutes left in the quarter. A layup by WC senior Lee Mudd in the closing seconds brought the score to 5-2 Bardstown.
The second quarter was much like the first as neither team found a rhythm. A basket by Demarco Phillips put Bardstown up 7-2. With 3:30 left in the first half, Commander senior John Hamilton brought WC within three. Damien Edelen went to the line for Bardstown and made one of two to give Bardstown an 8-4 lead at the break.
“It’s tough for us to change our style of play after two years of being up and down the floor and taking the first good shot,” said WC head coach Paul Bodenhamer at halftime. “It’s frustrating them, you can see it on their faces. My guys are doing a great job of handling the pressure and executing our gameplan. We’re going to control the basketball as much as we can. It’s not that we’re not looking to shoot, we’re just looking for the right shot at the right time. It’s a four-point game. We’ve not gone into a game this year against Bardstown down less than 20. We’ve executed, we’ve held them to eight points and these are the defending regional champs. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of my guys right now.”
Things picked up in the second half, particularly for Bardstown. Washington County seemed to pick up the pace, but every time WC missed a shot, a Tiger was there to get the rebound and take it the other way.
Early in the third quarter, each team added a free throw and WC junior Alex Simms knocked down a shot at the 7:00 mark to pull the Commanders within two points. The Commanders would not score for the rest of the quarter as Bardstown went on to score 15 unanswered points that stretched into the fourth quarter.
A layup by Alex Simms at the 5:17 mark in the fourth quarter brought the score to 22-9 Bardstown. Washington County fouls kept sending Tigers to the charity stripe, and they kept knocking them down. In fact, 10 out of Bardstown’s 15 points in the fourth quarter came at the free throw line.
One bright spot for WC in the fourth was Matthew Osborne, who came in in the final minute and a half and sank two treys to end up being WC’s leading scorer of the night with six points. No player for either team reached double figures in scoring.
The loss closes the book on the Commanders’ basketball season as they finish with a 4-24 record.
BHS 5 3 11 15 - 34
WCHS 2 2 3 14 – 21
Bardstown (34) – J. Hickman 9, Cochran 7, Edelen 6, Downs 5, D. Phillips 3, K. Hall 3, McCarty 1
3-point shots: Downs 1, K. Hall 1
Washington Co. (21) – Osborne 6, A. Simms 5, Mudd 5, Abell 2, John Hamilton 2, Purdom 1
3-point shots: Osborne 2, Mudd 1
VIDEO: The Washington County Commanders slow the pace of the game by holding on to the ball, taking very few shots in the first half of the game. Washington County's Alex Simms, Joe Joe Simms and Lee Mudd handle the ball for nearly a minute before passing it inside to John Hamilton, who puts it up for two points. Video shot by Jimmie Earls/The Springfield Sun.