The Barren County Trojans used an 18-9 run to open the fourth quarter Tuesday night to pull away and claim a 76-61 victory over visiting Green County in the basketball season opener for both teams.
“Well, we just really tried to clean some things up. I thought we guarded well early in the game, in terms of pressuring the ball and really getting over on the help side,” said Barren County coach Warren Cunningham. “And as the first half went along, we stopped getting over on the help side and stared at the ball when we weren’t guarding the ball.
“We let them drive too much, especially in the second quarter, and let them hang in there. And that’s what we talked about at halftime. We talk about it every day in practice, so it’s not like it is something new. I thought we did a much better job on defense, limiting their easy baskets. That was the thing. If we could limit their easy baskets, rebound the ball, we thought we could make enough shots to push the lead out.”
And push the lead out the Trojans did. Kenneth Banks nailed a 3-pointer for Green County to open the final period, bringing the Dragons to within four at 49-45.
But that’s when the Trojans started to pull away. Charley McCoy answered Banks with a trey of his own and, after a bucket by Green County’s Justice Bishop, Barren County’s Ben Leftwich scored the next five points to give the Trojans a 57-47 advantage with 4:04 to play in the game.
Nick Mabe scored on a layup and Wade Coomer hit a jumper in the paint for the Trojans. McCoy then hit one of two free throws and with 3:18 on the clock, Barren County held a 62-47 lead.
The Trojans shot 41 percent from the field for the game, while beating Green County on the boards, 40-20. Barren County also had only 10 turnovers on the night, while turning the Dragons over 24 times.
“I think we had seven turnovers in the first half and we really cut that down in the second half,” Cunningham said. “The big thing I thought was we didn’t turn them over out of traps, we turned them over by playing good position defense.”
McCoy led the Trojans with 16 points. Leftwich had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Barrett Billingsley contributed 12 points, five assists and five steals. Nick Mabe had six points and Bo Hubbard scored four. Trevor Robbins had three, with Kyle Marr, Sawyer Matthews and Zach Mabe scoring two points each.
“Rebounding has to be a huge key to our team this year,” Cunningham said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can move well, they’re athletic. We’ve got to win the rebound battle every night and (it was good to see) we got contributions from a lot of people tonight.
“Wade Coomer is a guy that can come off the bench and rebound well. Kyle Marr and Sawyer Matthews are two big guys coming off the bench that can rebound. I think Ben Leftwich had eight rebounds tonight. We’ve got to have two or three guys in the six, seven, eight rebound range each game.”
Tuesday’s game was close through most of the night. The Trojans led 17-10 at the end of the first period and took a 34-29 advantage into the locker room.
The Trojans hit the road for their next two games. Barren County will visit South Warren on Friday before traveling to Russellville on Saturday.