Things continue to trend upwards for Woodford County High School boys’ basketball Coach Jaron Brown and his Yellow Jackets. For the second time this season, WCHS has strung together a five-game winning streak after a tough first two weeks of the season. Friday night in Lawrenceburg, the Jackets picked up their first 30th District win of the season, beating the Anderson County Bearcats 49-34. On Monday, the Woodford rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to beat the Bearcats from Walton-Verona 74-71.
Anderson County, 49-34 win
Anderson County Coach Bryan Hyatt’s team played a slow-paced game through the first three quarters, and trailed 29-22 going into the fourth quarter. Anderson picked up the pace to try and claw its way back into the game. Instead, the Jackets ran away with it, scoring 13 points in the final two minutes.
The first quarter was the closest. WCHS led 7-6 through the first eight minutes with senior Anthony Tabor leading the way in scoring with two made baskets.
“We expected the slow pace,” said Brown. “We knew we wanted to speed things up and we were eventually able to do that.”
The pace stayed slow in the second quarter. Both teams scored four points in the first five minutes of the quarter before the Jackets went on an 8-0 run to lead 19-10 at halftime.
Out of the break, the first Woodford possession lasted longer than most Kentucky Derbys. The Jackets ran through their offense several times before finally scoring on senior Riley Gardner’s layup. WCHS took the second half’s opening 2:08 off the clock before the layup extended its lead to 11. The Bearcats cut the lead to 26-22, but another Woodford senior, Will Smiley, knocked down a three-pointer to give the Jackets a seven point lead going into the fourth quarter.
With just over four minutes elapsed in the quarter, Tabor made the play of the game. A cross-court pass near midcourt was almost tipped away by a Bearcat defender. Instead, Tabor snatched it from the air, absorbed the defender’s contact, spun around and dribbled away. He made it to the three-point arc before another Bearcat made a swipe at the ball and knocked him off-balance. Tabor somehow managed to literally slide away from the challenge, keeping his dribble alive while his rear end skidded inside the arc. Where, once back on his feet, he made a no-look lefty pass to Jared Courtney under the basket for an easy layup.
The Jackets left Lawrenceburg with the 49-34 win, but not before an unusual chant from the Anderson student-section.
“Dad-dy’s mon-ey!” chanted the ACHS students.
Whatever the intended reaction was, all it did was draw confusion from the (sizable) Woodford section. After the game, Tanner Cavins, a WCHS senior and baseball player said, “I take it as a compliment. We have hard working parents that do a lot for us.”
Junior Conner Dutton had stronger words on the matter, saying, “They want anything to hang over our heads to make them feel superior ... we’re the superior school in almost every way.”
The win put Woodford in second place in the 30th District standings behind 3-0 Collins.
Walton-Verona, 74-71 win
It took a second-half comeback and 22 made free throws, but the Yellow Jackets overcame Walton-Verona Monday night. Sophomore Brant Smithers scored 32 points for the Bearcats but was overcome by a balanced Woodford attack.
“We were down 23 points in the second quarter and 16 at halftime,” said Brown.
Of the nine WCHS players to score, four — Tabor (15), Hunter Penn (14), Courtney (12) and Ashton Myles-Devore (11) - scored in double figures. Tabor made just two of his seven attempts from the field but went 10 of 12 from the free throw line.
It took time for those experienced starters to get in rhythm and start the comeback.
“We came out sluggish,” explained Brown, “We put in some of the younger guys (to change the energy) and then started putting the starters back in the game one by one. We made the comeback and were able to hold on at the end.”
The Jackets resume district play against Spencer County Friday at the annual Jacketfest game. Spencer County lost to North Oldham and Oldham County — two teams Woodford has defeated — earlier this season, but won against Madison Southern, which handed the Jackets their worst loss of the season. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m., after the WCHS girls play at 6 p.m.