Royals take down Camels in 10th Region semis

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Campbell County was looking for their sixth 10th Region final appearance in the last nine years.

Mason County stood in the way on their home floor at the Mason County Fieldhouse in Maysville.

The Royals jumped out to a double-digit halftime lead and eventually pulled away for a 75-67 victory, effectively ending the Camels season at 22-12 in the 10th Region semifinals.

“We took care of the basketball, we continued shooting the basketball with confidence, we rebounded and most importantly we stepped to the free throw line and knocked down free throws there late,” Royals coach Brian Kirk said.

Trailing 37-26 at the break, it was an ideal start for Campbell County out of the half, opening up on a 7-0 run. They continued to make things tight, but a triplet of 3-pointers, two from Carter McClanahan and one from Braylon Hamilton and the Camels again found themselves down double-digits trailing 51-41 going into the fourth.

“That killed us,” Camels coach Aric Russell said. “Part of it is we’re trying to keep them out of the middle and trying to help off and that leaves guys open and they capitalize. They’re comfortable here on their own floor and took advantage of that and hit some big shots. That really hurt us because we’re fighting to get back in it even more, trying to get back in again after we’d already cut it to three.”.

KG Walton and Terrell Henry were the difference makers in the contest, the two combining for 52 points as Walton’s floor game gave the Camels issues all evening and Henry punished the Camels in the paint.

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“We let them get way too far into the paint. We talked about it all week, tried to even pack it in, they still did a real good job pushing up Henry. We let him get way too deep and that killed us,” Russell said. “Didn’t get enough stops and they got a lot of free throws and made them.”

Aydan Hamilton led the Camels with 24 points, Connor Weinel adding 12, Jaiden Combs with 11 and Jake Gross 10.

Ayden Hamilton led the Camels with 24 points. Photo provided | Leo McKay

Despite shooting 51% and outrebounding the Royals 30-25, Mason County had a big advantage at the free throw line, hitting 22-of-27 attempts compared to the Camels 8-of-13 attempts.

Both teams took good care of the ball, the Camels with six turnovers to the Royals five.

The loss ends the high school basketball careers of Aydan Hamilton, Jake Gross and Keegan Hill. Hamilton finishes as the program’s all-time leading scorer while Gross cleared the 1,000-point mark in his senior season. Hill battled through a knee injury in his senior season.

“Aydan came in as an eighth grader playing with sophomores on the JV team. He’s got a lot of minutes through the years and we’re gonna miss him. He did a lot for us. Jake, shooter, gym rat, does so many good things. And Keegan, if Keegan didn’t have that injury, he would have been the old Keegan, but he fought through it all year and gave us good minutes. I couldn’t be more proud of these three seniors and I’m gonna miss them,” Russell said.

Jaidan Combs finished with 11 points off the bench for the Camels. Photo provided | Leo McKay

As for Russell? Who just finished off his 25th year of coaching and some talk surrounding he may hang it up?

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“It’s been 25 years. I’m gonna take some time to get away from it for a little bit and just pray on it. Talk to my wife, she’s one not wanting me to be done. She wants me to keep going. I’ll take some time, pray on it and see where it goes. Lord willing we’ll see what happens after that,” Russell said. “These kids overcame a lot this season. We had to really change things up early and go through a lot and I can’t be disappointed with where we’re at. Obviously I’m disappointed that we didn’t keep going, but I can’t be disappointed in those kids because they gave me everything they had. I just appreciate them for that.”

Henry finished with 27, hitting 9-of-14 from the field, Walton with 25. The two combined to shoot 22-of-27 from the free throw line. Braylon Hamilton added 13 for the Royals, knocking down three 3-pointers after hitting a program record 10 in the quarterfinals against Nicholas County.

Mason County moves on to Tuesday’s championship to try and dethrone three-time defending champ George Rogers Clark. That game will be at 7 p.m.

“We’ll need more of those three’s come Tuesday night. We got to have that play out of KG Walton again tomorrow night,” Kirk said. “We’re excited to be playing for the regional championship. When you start October 15, this was the goal the night that you want to be playing for a regional title and our kids have given themselves the opportunity to go out and compete. We’ll go out and have fun and see what happens.”

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GRC defeated Harrison County, 69-56 in the second semifinal of the night.

CAMPBELL COUNTY — 14-12-15-26 — 67

MASON COUNTY — 16-21-14-24 — 75

Campbell (67) — Hamilton 24, Weinel 12, Combs 11, Gross 10, Jackson 4, Hill 3, Smith 3

Mason (75) — Henry 27, Walton 25, Hamilton 13, McClanahan 6, Bierley 2, Mastin 2

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