It was a slow start for Holy Cross (15-5) senior guard Jacob Meyer.
Taking on a physical Hazard (18-3) team, Meyer may not have got the benefit of the doubt on some calls early on with just two points in the first quarter.
But as the game wore on, Meyer imposed his will, started to get some foul calls and the Indians ended up pulling away from the Bulldogs, 60-45 to advance to Saturday’s All “A” state tournament semifinals.
“I don’t get a call you know, I just want the next play. I’m all about winning and just going on to the next play and getting a stop and getting a score,” Meyer said.
Once again seeing a halftime lead dwindle away for the second straight night at Eastern Kentucky University’s Alumni Coliseum, it was Meyer scoring 18 of the Indians next 22 points. During that span, the Indians stretched a 27-25 lead to 49-35 midway through the fourth.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a luxury to have a guy like Jake who can just take the team and put him on his back and he’s proving to the state now that that he’s a winner. And he’s definitely not scared at the moment,” Sorrell said.
Hazard would get no closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Javier Ward got the Indians going early, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter as the Indians built a 15-11 end of first quarter lead.
They locked in defensively from there, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the second, their lead blossoming to 23-11. The Indians would take a 27-18 lead into the half.
For a team that likes to score in the 70’s and 80’s, they showed Friday they can win against a slower paced, physical team.
“It was a game of their discipline and basketball IQ versus our athleticism and speed. So, I think that defensively our guys were intense. They were very engaged with our scouting report, paying attention to small details and how we play certain guys. It’s credit to the kids for playing hard and preparing the right way,” Sorrell said.
Meyer ended up finishing with 34 points, also pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out five assists, he also hit 14-of-15 from the free throw line. EKU coach AW Hamilton had a courtside seat for it, Meyer holding an EKU offer.
“It means a lot for him to be here. Me and coach Ham, we talk a lot. He’s great guy. I like playing here so we’ll see,” Meyer said.
Matthew Dreas and Jacob Smith scored six apiece, Dreas with four steals and four assists as well. Sam Gibson adding two with 11 rebounds and four blocks.
The loss was just Hazard’s third of the season. They were led by Max Johnson with 13 points, Evin Eversole and Landon Smith with 11 apiece. Jamal Hazell was the team’s leading scorer with 15 points per game coming in, but was held to two on Friday night.
Holy Cross awaits the winner in the nightcap of UHA and Owensboro Catholic, the winner taking on the Indians on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
On the other side of the bracket, Evangel Christian and Owen County meet in the noon semifinal.
Winners then head to the championship on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Coach told us we haven’t won this since 2012 so we really want to bring this one back to the Holy Cross community,” Meyer said.
HAZARD — 11-7-17-10 — 45
HOLY CROSS — 15-12-16-17 — 60
Hazard (45) – Jphnson 13, Eversole 11, Smith 11, Caudill 8, Hazell 2
Holy Cross (60) – Meyer 34, Ward 12, Dreas 6, Smith 6, Gibson 2