• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Yellow Jackets 2nd at Lloyd Memorial Tournament

MALIK RICHARDS, shown leading a fast break down court in a game earlier this season, helped lead the Yellow Jackets to a 2-1 finish in the Lloyd Memorial Basketball Tournament, which was played Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 28 to 30, in Northern Kentucky. Richards had his best performance in the final against Campbell County, where he scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds. However, despite t heir good play, Woodford lost, 59-33.  (Photos by Rick Capone)

The Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team closed out its holiday tournament season in impressive fashion, traveling to Northern Kentucky for the Lloyd Memorial Basketball Tournament, Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 28 to 30. The Yellow Jackets finished 1-2 in the tournament against three teams that are ranked in their respective regions. That included giving Campbell County, which is No. 1 in the 10th region, all they could handle in the final. “Overall, I am very pleased with what we were able to accomplish,” said Woodford head coach Ryan Wilson. “Defensively, we out-rebounded two of three opponents and held teams to an average of 50 points per game. We showed a lot of toughness defensively all tournament. “Offensively, I think we are still learning and figuring out how we are best able to score and we showed spurts of efficiency within our offense,” he continued. “We were able to learn a lot about our team on and off the floor, which will help us down the road. More importantly, I was very proud of how our seniors stepped up and led this team the past three games. They were the main reason for our success.” With those games complete, Woodford is now 7-6 overall, 1-3 in the region and 1-1 in the district. In their first game in the tournament on Wednesday, the Yellow Jackets scored a 55-45 win over the host team, Lloyd Memorial. “After holding the host team to 14 first-half points, we were able to push our lead out to almost 20 late in the second half,” said Wilson. “After a late run by Lloyd (Memorial), we were able to settle back in and finish the game strong. We looked much improved on offense, and, defensively, only gave up 45 points. I was very proud of the fact that we were able to out-rebound the much bigger opponent.” Senior Keagan Stromberg led the team with 18 points and seven rebounds in the game, while senior Brandon Cromwell had 14 points and five rebounds. In addition, a number of other seniors had good games as well. Alex Cason had eight points and four rebounds, Trevor White had seven points and seven rebounds, Griffin Mobley scored five points, and Malik Richards had three points, while sophomore Corey George pulled down six rebounds. In its second game in the tournament on Thursday, Woodford put in a good performance and defeated Ryle 62-46. “Ryle is a very big and tough team and we were able to show a lot of grit and toughness in this game,” said Wilson. “We struggled at times to rebound the ball against the bigger opponent, but I was pleased with our ability to play through our mistakes and find ways to correct them. “This was a very explosive night offensively as we did a tremendous job executing our sets to get a lot of open looks. Luckily, we were able to hit those shots. This was a fun game to be a part of.” Three Yellow Jackets scored in double figures in the game. Stromberg led the team with 20 points and three rebounds, while Richards had 16 points and two rebounds and White had 14 points. Also, senior Brandon Cromwell had six points and four rebounds, Cason had four points and one rebound and George finished with two points and a team-leading seven rebounds. With those wins, Woodford played Campbell County for the tournament title and fell short, losing 59-33. “After playing at 8:30 for the third consecutive night, I think our guys were a bit fatigued against Campbell County, (which is) ranked No. 1 in the 10th region,” said Wilson. “We were able to get a lot of good looks at the rim; however, the rim was unkind and Campbell did a great job using their length to disrupt many of our shots as well. “Despite again being undersized, we were able to out-rebound the much bigger opponent and hold them to their lowest point total of the season. I was proud of how we fought until the end; just one of the nights that was not meant to be for us.” The team had two players score in double figures in the game. Cromwell led the way with 11 points and Richards had 10 points and five rebounds. Next up, Woodford plays four games over the next week, with two of them being against district opponents. On Friday, Jan. 6, the Jackets are on the road for a district game against Frankfort at 6:30 p.m. Then on Saturday, Jan. 7, they host Madison Central in The Hive at 7:30 p.m. The team follows that on Tuesday, Jan. 10 when it goes on the road to play Sayre at 7:30 p.m. Woodford then closes out the week on Friday, Jan. 13, against another district opponent, Franklin County, in Frankfort at 8:15 p.m.

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