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A big run helped the Shelby County boys’ basketball team get a benchmark victory for Coach Jason Couch on Friday night.
An 18-0 spurt, which began late in the third quarter and continued into the fourth quarter, propelled the Rockets to a 73-50 victory – the 300th of Couch’s career – over 30th District-rival Anderson County at Mike Casey Gymnasium.
“To me it means two things: One, I’m old, and, two, I’ve been doing this for a while,” said Couch, 42, who is in his second year at Shelby County after spending nine at Eastern and five at Greenwood.
Couch, however, was emotional immediately afterward as his team presented him with the game ball.
“Coaches who say that stuff doesn’t matter, they’re full of it,” Couch said. “The way our players embraced it, that was really special, really special to me.”
It also was the fourth consecutive victory for Shelby.
“It’s a great thing to be a part of,” senior guard Kipp Moore said of Couch’s 300th. “It was a big thing in the locker room. When he’s out, we’d say, ‘Get it for Coach.’”
“Plus there’s nothing better than to get it against Anderson.”
The Bearcats (6-5) blasted the Rockets, 77-37, last Feb. 19 in the 30th District Tournament semifinals to end Couch’s first season at Shelby.
In Friday night’s rematch Anderson County led, 14-13, at the end of the first quarter before the Rockets outscored the Bearcats, 18-13, in the second period to lead, 31-27, at intermission.
It was still a 4-point lead for Shelby late in the third quarter before Anderson County junior guard Austin Cummins, who burned the Rockets for 36 points in that district game, hit a layup with 51 seconds left.
Those, however, were the Bearcats’ last points for 5:35.
Sophomore forward James Gordon got Shelby County’s game-deciding run going with a field goal with 40.8 seconds to play in the period. Moore hit a jumper 10 seconds later to give the Rockets a 47-41 lead at the end of three.
Shelby County then reeled off 14 consecutive points, with junior reserve guard Zander Weeks’ starting things off with an acrobatic layup 15 seconds into the final period.
Moore and Kyler Dugle scored five points apiece, and Keenan Cochran tallied two before Christian Estes, who scored a game-high 20 points, hit one free throw with 3:15 to play.
“We got six stops in a row there and just converted on easy baskets,” Moore said.
Gordon hit a jumper 14 seconds later before Moore made a layup, and was fouled intentionally (which resulted in the ejection of Anderson’s Josh Brown) with 2:18 left.
Then, while Moore shot one of the intentional foul free throws, Bearcats Coach Glen Drury was whistled for a technical foul.
The Rockets outscored Anderson, 42-23, in the second half, including, 26-9, in the fourth quarter.
“Our guys are starting to understand the second half can be our half,” Couch said.
Gordon led a balanced attack – six Rockets had at least eight points – with 17 points. He was 8-for-16 from the field. Cochran and Moore added 14 points apiece.
Cochran was 7-for-11 from the field for Shelby County, which shot 52.5 percent (31-for-59) from the field but was just 10 of 23 (43.4 percent) from the free-throw line.
Juniors Dugle, Kemar Mason and Weeks chipped in with eight points apiece on Couch’s special night.
“We knew we had to get it for him,” Cochran said. “We knew how emotional he’d get, we wanted to see him cry.”
Thomas Nelson 64, Shelby County 61
Austin Willett’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer Saturday night in Bardstown ended the Rockets’ 4-game winning streak.
Thomas Nelson, which trailed, 29-28, at halftime, outscored Shelby County, 22-14, in the third quarter.
Sophomore point guard Malik Manica tallied a team-high 15 points for the Rockets, who hit 24 of 59 from the field (40.7 percent) and just 7 of 18 (38.9 percent) from the free-throw line.
Willett and freshman guard Anthony Youngman tied for game-high scoring honors with 16 points apiece.
Shelby County, which played at Bourbon County on Tuesday night, plays at district and crosstown-rival Collins at 7:30 p.m. Friday.