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It was a good finish but a rough start for the still-a-work-in-progress Shelby County boys’ basketball team Tuesday night.
Visiting Christian Academy of Louisville built a 38-21 halftime lead and cruised to a 74-55 victory at Mike Casey Gymnasium. First-year Coach Jason Couch’s Rockets made things interesting late, though. Down 21 with less than four minutes to go, they scored 10 consecutive points to nearly trim their deficit to single digits.
“It was a good sign to show we’re giving effort,” Shelby assistant coach Ken Cates said. “That’s all we’re looking for right now, so that was good to see.
“We’ve got guys that will give full effort for the game, but we need to find more. We get it in spurts, but we need that for all thirty-two minutes.”
CAL (3-1), which went 14-17 and lost to Couch-coached Eastern, 59-47, in the 28th District Tournament semifinals last season, got off to a good start.
Max Huff hit a half-hook 17 seconds into the game that gave the Centurions a quick lead. Shelby County freshman forward James Gordon answered with a jumper 29 seconds later, but that was the Rockets’ final field goal for nearly five minutes.
CAL outscored Shelby, 11-1, including a 9-0 spurt, during that span. Jacob Gowin’s 3-pointer with 2:28 to play in the period ended the Rockets’ drought.
Gowin scored again, off a feed from Kyler Dugle 31 seconds into the second quarter to pull Shelby (0-3) to 17-12. Just like the first period, though, the Rockets went nearly another five minutes without a field goal. In the meantime CAL hit the offensive boards and pushed its lead to 30-14.
“We’re undersized, and when you don’t block out, you’ll give up way too many second chances,” Cates said. “In all three games, rebounding has been an issue.”
Kipp Moore’s floater stopped Shelby’s second dry spell near the 3-minute mark, but the Rockets still trailed, 38-21, at halftime.
The Centurions’ lead reached 20 in the third quarter and was 21 (67-45) with a little less than 4 minutes to play.
But that’s when Shelby County made its run. The Rockets reeled off 10 points on an inside basket by Gordon, layups from Moore, Michael Barry and Gowin and a rebound basket by Gordon. The latter made it 67-55 with 1:37 to play.
“We were trying to trap them, and we got some turnovers. That worked real well,” Barry said.
That was as close as Shelby County would get, though.
The Centurions hit five of six free throws to close out the game.
Barry and Moore led Shelby with 14 points apiece, and Gowin, a sophomore, added 13 off the bench. Barry was just 5-for-12 from the foul line for the Rockets, who as a team made 15 for 25 foul shots.
“We’ve got to put all the pieces together,” Barry said. “We need to play like we did in the second half [for] the whole game.”
Sawyer Hobbs led CAL with 14 points. The Centurions hit 16 of 19 from the free-throw line.
The Rockets play at Mercer County at 7:30 tonight, then meet Atherton at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the final game of the Mike Casey Classic. Shelby County plays at Anderson County at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in its first district game.