• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Yellow Jackets advance to district title game

SENIOR CELEBRATION. The Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team celebrated senior night in The Hive in front of family, friends and teammates prior to its game against South Oldham on Friday, Feb. 19. The seniors honored, along with their coaches, were, front row, from left, Ryan Wilson (assistant coach), Matthew Heigle, Derrick Robinson (assistant coach), Nick Gibson, Tucker Sly, Scott Hundley (head coach), Brice Hewett, Tre Winkfield, Wesley Smith, Jacob Roberts, Ted Hundley (assistant coach), Johnathan Colley, and Nick Schuerman (assistant coach). (Photo by Rick Capone)

The Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team bounced back from its senior night loss to South Oldham on Friday, Feb. 19, and scored a 71-47 win over Western Hills in its first-round game in the 41st District Tournament at the Frankfort Civic Center on Tuesday, Feb. 23. With the win, Woodford advances to the district championship game against the winner of Wednesday’s Franklin County-Frankfort game. In addition, the Yellow Jackets qualified for the 11th Region Tournament, which is next week at Eastern Kentucky University. In their senior night game on Friday, the team started off with an enjoyable pregame celebration in The Hive for the team’s seniors. However, when the evening was over, Woodford had suffered a tough loss, 79-65, to South Oldham. Before the game got underway, Woodford honored its six seniors – Johnathan Colley, Brice Hewett, Jacob Roberts, Tucker Sly, Wesley Smith and DeVontre “Tre” Winkfield – in a short ceremony in front of family, friends, and teammates. In addition, team manager Matthew Heigle and statistician Nick Gibson were honored as well. “This group of seniors is a group that’s really worked hard,” said Woodford head coach Scott Hundley. “They weren’t very heralded as freshmen, and a lot of people didn’t see the potential in them. They’ve kept their nose to the grindstone, and really worked hard to get to where they are. They’ve earned every bit of what they’ve got. You know, it’s a fun group that I really appreciate all their efforts, and I know the leadership abilities of many of them have rubbed off on some of our younger guys.” After the ceremony, the two teams took to the floor to begin play, only to see the Yellow Jackets get off to a rocky start and fall behind early, 7-3. But, the Yellow Jackets fought back and tied it 7-7 on a shot by junior Keagan Stromberg off a pass by sophomore Chandler Stewart, and a drive down the lane by Smith for a layup, which got the student section, which included a very clever mock-ESPN broadcast, cheering loudly. South Oldham came right back with a three-point shot to take a 10-7 lead, but freshman Brandon Cromwell hit two free throws and Stromberg and Stewart connected again for two to give the Yellow Jackets an 11-10 lead as the quarter was winding down. However, with 4.9 seconds left in the quarter, Woodford was called for a foul and the Dragons hit one of two free throws to tie the game 11-11 at the end of the first. The second quarter saw Woodford go ahead early, 16-14, and then widen its lead to seven points, 23-16, with less than three minutes to go in the half. But, once again, South Oldham fought back and soon made it a one-point game, 27-26, as the clock was winding down in the quarter. Stromberg then pulled off a great play when he took a pass, drove down the lane as time was running out and hit a layup to give Woodford a 29-26 lead to end the half. South Oldham came out with a steely determination in the third quarter and went on a nine-point run to take a 35-29 lead. The two teams then went back and forth on the scoreboard before Woodford finally managed to come back and tie the game 41-41 on a drive down the floor by Stewart for two points. The Dragons then regained the lead on a three-pointer, 44-41, and held onto it for the rest of the quarter, which ended with Woodford down 52-48. In the fourth quarter, Woodford was playing catch-up the entire way, as South Oldham started off with a two-pointer to make it 54-48. Soon after, with the score 60-53, the Dragons hit a three-pointer to take a 10-point lead, 63-53. While Woodford worked hard after that to try and come back, they were unable to cut into South Oldham’s lead, and when the buzzer sounded the Dragons had the win 80-65. “I thought we did a good job of staying in attack mode the entire night,” said Hundley. “The only problem is that good teams make runs, and I think we led them into some layups where they’re pressing us and we tossed it to them for a layup. We have to do a better job of protecting the ball. I think we had 27 turnovers and that won’t win against a good team.”

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