• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Yellow Jackets lose district game to Western Hills

MALIK RICHARDS soars to the basket for two of his eight points in the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball home district game against Western Hills on Tuesday, Dec. 6. While the Yellow Jackets had an early lead, the Wolverines came back and won, 54-40. (Photo by Steve Blake/multiexposures.com)

On the scoreboard, it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team went on a 10-0 scoring run to open up a comfortable lead over Western Hills in the Jackets’ district match up in The Hive on Tuesday, Dec. 6. At the half, they were ahead 35-23. In the second half, the roles were reversed, as Western Hills not only went on a 10-point scoring run to catch up to Woodford, but with the Yellow Jackets’ scoring going cold, the Wolverines took the lead and went on to win the game 54-49. However, according to Woodford head coach Ryan Wilson, the Yellow Jackets’ loss was not just about the team’s scoring going cold in the second half. “I wouldn’t feel good to say we played a good first half,” said Wilson. “I think we were just fortunate that we hit some shots. But, I (also) think that defensively, we weren’t prepared. I didn’t prepare them the way we needed to be prepared. We had some foul trouble there early in the first half, and had to sit a few guys, and I think that hurt us. It took some of our scorers and some of our big play guys out of the game. “I give my hats off to Western Hills,” he continued. “They came in and they beat us up and down the floor every which way possible, including the coaching. As a young coach, I’m going to put this one in the back pocket and I’m going to remember this one. And we’re going to get back to work and see what we can figure out.” Woodford will need to figure things out pretty quickly, as they face another district opponent, Franklin County, on Friday, Dec. 9, at home at 7:30 p.m. What will Wilson and his staff work on with the team to prepare for the Flyers? “We talk to our guys a lot about embracing the process,” said Wilson. “I think all too often, not just with our guys, but any teenager, they want the prize, but they don’t necessarily embrace the process. As far as the process, we talk about playing defense the full time, not just for a few seconds at a time.” With this loss, plus a win at home over Boyle County on Friday, Dec. 2, the Yellow Jackets are now 1-2 overall, 0-2 in the region and 0-1 in district play. According to Wilson, the win over Boyle County was completely different from how the team played against Western Hills. “Boyle County was the complete opposite from tonight,” said Wilson. “We were flying around the ball. We were active. (It was) a lot about not having our feet planted in the ground. And, our guys, … got a lot of offense from our defense. It was one of those nights where … our shots were falling.” In the game against Western Hills, the game remained close through the first quarter, with Woodford always maintaining a small lead of a few points. At the end of the first stanza, the Yellow Jackets were ahead 20-16. Woodford really opened things up in the second quarter. With the Yellow Jackets ahead by one point, 20-19, Woodford went on a 10-0 scoring run to open up a 30-20 lead. Western Hills fought to come back, but a three-pointer by senior Trevor White, and a short jumper by senior Brandon Cromwell with under a minute to go in the quarter, gave Woodford a 35-23 lead at halftime. As the second half began, Woodford was able to maintain its lead early, as they hit two shots, one a layup by Cromwell, to make it a 37-27 game. But then Western Hills’ shots began to go in and the Wolverines went on a 10-point scoring streak of their own, which got them within two points of the Yellow Jackets, 39-37. Then, with just a few ticks left in the quarter, the Wolverines hit a layup to tie the game 39-39, at the buzzer. In the fourth quarter, Western Hills took control of the game and opened up a four-point lead, 47-43, which forced Woodford to call a time out to regroup. The time out helped, as the Yellow Jackets fought back hard and tied the game on a three-pointer by Cromwell, 49-49. After that, Western Hills scored on a layup to regain the lead, 51-49, with 1:16 left in the game. Woodford then attempted a few three-pointers, but all missed the basket, while Western Hills hit three free throws and tried to run out the clock, which they did to get the 54-49 win. “We’re going to learn from (this game) and we’re going to figure out that when team’s start making a run, it’s not about making big plays, it’s just doing the little things right and finding ways to get stops at key moments,” said Wilson. “Then the easy baskets come and the next thing you now you find yourself in a comfortable position. We’ll get back to work and we’ll see what happens.” Leading Woodford in the game was Cromwell with 12 points and senior Alex Cason with 10 points. Also, seniors Malik Richards had eight points, and Keagan Stromberg and Trevor White had seven points each. Next up, Woodford plays Franklin County at home on Friday, Dec. 9, at 6:30 p.m.

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