KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen: Ballard Breaks Taylor County!!!!
KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen: Ballard Breaks Taylor County!
The Taylor County Cardinals tried to savior a third straight trip to the KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen Tournament, but the magical run came to an end last Thursday afternoon as the Ballard Bruins taught the Cardinals a lesson in getting off to a fast start. All through out the 5th Region Tournament at Central Hardin high school, Taylor County would start slowly and found their rhythm by the second half, but against one of the top offensive teams in the state starting slow turned out to be fatal.
Cardinal coach Maze Stallworth’s team started out tentatively by turning the ball over three straight times and then hit only 2-of-6 shots falling behind 8-4, then were outscored 22-11 in the first quarter on the way to a 69-33 first round loss to the Bruins. Taylor County tried to cut into the eleven-point deficit in the second quarter, but found themselves digging themselves out of a deep hole by halftime, 44-17.
The Cardinals shot a combined 7-25 in the first two quarters and come the third quarter the deficit continued to build as a 18-point Bruin outburst had the game on a running clock. The Cardinals never really found a rhythm as Stallworth’s team shot just 13-50 from the field and just 2-of-8 from three point land. On the other hand, the Bruins played with confidence shooting 30-68 and got balanced scoring from Antoine Darby (15-points), Dorian Tisby (14-points), Clivonte Patterson (10-points) and Orland Higginbottom (10-points). The leading scorer for Taylor County was Tre’von Smith with 11-points. No Cardinal scored in double figures after that and Taylor County was held to single digit scoring in every quarter after the first. It was not the offensive output that Stallworth was use to seeing during the bulk of his first season as head coach, but Ballard had a lot to do with that.
For seniors like Ezra Oliver and Dylan Gaines (who was seeing his first action since recovering from an injured hand), it was a bizarre ending to a memorable four seasons. It certainly wasn’t the last image they wanted, but as they the team left the floor after the game the crowd swelled and burst into applause. Afterwards, Oliver was asked during the media conference what he took away from the game? His reply was pretty simple. “You never want your career to end, but if it does I’d rather it happen here in Rupp Arena than at Central Hardin.” For most everyone on the Taylor County bench, that was putting it the best way.