• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Jackets crush Western Hills to reach district championship game

The Woodford County High School boys' basketball team dominated Western Hills, 79-52, Tuesday, Feb. 18, to reach the finals of the 41st District Championship. Woodford's defense created havoc on the Wolverine ballhandlers and on offense the Jackets scored at will with hot shooting from beyond the arc. The Jackets also clinched a berth into the regional tournament next week. The game was tied at 6-6 after three minutes of play, but WCHS sophomore Hunter Penn hit a three-pointer that sparked a 9-2 run by the Jackets. WCHS seniors Brandon Cromwell and Ben Nash each hit three-pointers that gave Woodford a 15-8 lead with 90 seconds remaining in the first quarter. WCHS junior Ashton Myles-Devore swatted a Wolverine shot off the backboard that sparked a fast break punctuated by a Cromwell layup and Woodford led 21-10 after one quarter. "I think everyone on the team was happy to get the first one out of the way," said Nash. "Everyone seems relaxed and ready for whoever we play next." The Jackets began the second quarter on a 5-0 run and extended their lead to 16 points. The Wolverines scored on a pair of free throws, but Woodford responded with an 8-0 run and led 36-12 midway through the second quarter. WCHS junior Anthony Tabor was on fire in the second quarter scoring 10 points with a pair of assists. The Jackets led 45-26 at halftime. "I think everyone is excited to be moving on to the championship game and the regional tournament," said WCHS senior Ryan Duke. "We had a good feeling about our game tonight, and hopefully it continues." The Jackets scored seven straight points in transition to begin the third quarter. The Wolverines scored a basket in the post, but the Jackets went on another 7-0 run and pushed their lead to 30 points. The Wolverines scored a pair of baskets before Myles-Devore hit a pair of threes to end the third quarter and Woodford led 68-36. The Wolverines cut into Woodford's lead in the fourth quarter, but Tabor scored six points and senior Alex Morgan hit a three-pointer to help Woodford close out the win. "Our student section came out in full force tonight.They were crazy, " said Tabor. "It felt great to get that kind of support from our home crowd tonight.” Senior Night The Woodford County High School boys' basketball team finished its regular season with an 83-38 win over Wellspring home school on senior night Thursday, Feb. 14. The Jackets dominated the offensive rebounding and turned the Guardians over at a frantic pace in the second half to cruise to the easy win. The Jackets tallied a school record 16 three-pointers by seven different players. "This senior class is a special group of guys," said WCHS Coach Ryan Wilson. "They work hard, they genuinely enjoy each other, and it's been a pleasure being part of their journey." The Guardians led 4-2 early in the first quarter, but Morgan drained a three-pointer to give the Jackets a 5-4 advantage. Woodford was red hot from long range in the final four minutes of the first quarter. Nash, Cromwell, and Duke hit from beyond the arc, Myles-Devore hit another from long range to boost Woodford's lead to 27-16 at the end of the first quarter. "I've been playing ball with these guys since rec ball in the second grade," said Morgan. "We always have good chemistry because of so many years playing together. Tonight the ball was going in for everyone, and that is a great feeling." Cromwell began the second quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the key and Myles-Devore hit another three on the Jackets' next possession. After a couple of baskets from the Guardians, Cromwell scored four straight points to give the Jackets a 39-22 lead with 2:30 remaining in the half. WCHS sophomore scored on an alley-oop from Tabor that brought the crowd to its feet. Woodford closed the quarter on a 7-0 run and led 48-24 at halftime. Woodford opened the second half on a 6-0 run on threes from Cromwell and Nash. George made three baskets in a row from beyond the arc, and the Jackets held the Guardians to just four points in the quarter and led 75-28 after three quarters. "We keep things pretty loose around each other," said George. "We grew up together, went to overnight camps together and truly got to know one another through experiences like that. We have a big week coming up, and I am excited to see where we go from here." Wilson emptied his bench in the fourth quarter, and the Jackets' seniors left the court to a standing ovation. "Tonight was a special night for us," said Nash. “These seniors are great kids, and I am proud to be part of that class. The guys on this team are not just teammates, we are a family. We were blessed to see everyone here tonight to celebrate our group."

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