• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Yellow Jackets lose to Mercer Co. on Senior Night

SENIOR CELEBRATION. Prior to the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball game against Mercer County in The Hive on Tuesday, Feb. 14, the team honored its seniors in a short ceremony in front of family, teammates and friends. The seniors, with their coaches are, front row, from left, Nick Gibson, Trevor White, Alex Cason, Maddie Hudson, Griffin Mobley, Braxton Caudhill and Josh Brolin; back row, Ryan Wilson (head coach), Keagan Stromberg, Malik Richards, Jerry Skeeter (assistant coach) and Nick Sherman (assistant coach). (Photo by Rick Capone)

The evening started off with a festive atmosphere, as the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team and cheerleading squad honored their seniors. However, once the game began, Woodford fell behind Mercer County early and, while the Jackets did get within one point in the second quarter, the visitors went home the winner, 72-58.

"Anytime you have an emotional night like senior night, you're (caught) up in the thought process of this being your last time playing at home," said Woodford head coach Ryan Wilson. "So, I think by the time we wrapped our head around the fact that we had a ball game, (we were down). … I think we made that little run in the first quarter and outscored them to close the gap. Then we got it down within one there in the second quarter, and then the wheels fell apart. I think we began making some mental mistakes, (and) turnovers, (and) things like that puts our defense in a bad position. I think we missed some easy point-blank shots, and I think that just took the air out of ourselves a little bit.

"But, that's something that you've got to get past. We're going to miss shots, we're going to make mistakes. But, we can't compound it by making an additional one and letting them score. So, even when you lose, you don't lose the lessons. We're going to take some things from this and we're going to learn from it and, hopefully, it'll make us better for the next game."

That next game is on Friday, Feb. 17, when Woodford goes on the road for its final regular season game at Bourbon County at 7:30 p.m. With the loss to Mercer County, Woodford is now 13-14 overall, 4-9 in the region and 4-2 in the district, with the tourney being played next week. Woodford’s first game in the 41st District tournament will be played Wednesday, Feb. 22, against Frankfort at 8:15 p.m. If the Yellow Jackets win, they will face the winner of the Franklin County-Western Hills game in the final on Friday, Feb. 24, at 8:15 p.m. Prior to the start of the game against Woodford, the team honored its seniors in a short ceremony in front of family, friends and teammates. “We’ve got a really good, strong group of seniors,” said Wilson. “They’re very close-knit. I think they care about each other. They love the game of basketball. I think they love Woodford County more importantly. A lot of this group, I believe six of the seven, have played all four years and they won a district championship together as freshmen. I think most of them played together through middle school. So it’s a special night for them; to watch them be honored and recognized for all their accomplishments and everything that they’ve done for the program.” Once the festivities were over, the game began and Woodford fell behind early, 10-2. While the Jackets did begin to come back, thanks to two three-pointers in a row by senior Keagan Stromberg, Mercer County held a 17-12 lead at the end of one. In the second quarter, Woodford continued to fight back and got to within one point, 18-17, but that was a close as the Jackets would get, and at the end of the first half, Mercer County led 35-29. In the third quarter, Mercer County did not let up and held a 44-37 lead by the end of the stanza, and while Woodford continued to fight in the fourth quarter, the team just could not catch up and lost 72-58. There was one other senior highlight in the game. In the fourth quarter, senior Keagan Stromberg scored his 1,000-career point and was honored courtside.

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