The Campbell County Camels (14-9, 3-0) have no doubt been the standard with 37th District boys basketball over the years winning nine straight district championships starting in 2014.
But even though the Camels have won 9 of 10 meetings against the Scott Eagles (9-13, 2-1), only two of those wins have been in double-digits. Host Scott again battled Campbell County making the Camels have to pull away in the fourth quarter for a 58-51 win to earn another top seed in the district tournament to be played at Campbell County Middle School in February.
Campbell County head coach Aric Russell earned his 400th career win as boys coach. He’s been leading the Campbell County boys since 2010. Prior to that, Russell led both programs at Newport.
The Camels started the game in a 2-3 extended zone, but eventually went man. But Campbell County switched back to that 2-3 in the fourth quarter and it helped the Camels pull away.
“That was a big goal for us to get that number one seed,” Russell said. “We were either fouling or they were getting to the hole. We tried to slow that down, changing things up a little bit. It just seemed to help us there in that spot. I think we got three steals out of it and were able to get some points.”
Campbell County did it once again with balanced scoring. Senior forward Ayden Hamilton led the way scoring 15 points including 13 in the first half. Hamilton is 11 points away from 2,000 for his career at 1,991. Hamilton has dressed for varsity since his eighth grade year.
Senior guard Jake Gross and sophomore guard Garyn Jackson followed with 13 and 10 points respectively. The Camels made 21 of 50 shots for 42 percent including 5 of 17 from three-point range for 29 percent and 11 of 18 free throws for 61 percent to go with 32 rebounds. Hamilton and junior forward/guard Nathan Smith led the Camels with seven rebounds each.
Senior guard Brayden Howell led the Eagles with 22 points and junior guard Dylan Giffen scored 10. Scott made 21 of 41 shots for 51 percent including 4 of 10 from three-point range for 40 percent to go with 5 of 7 free throws for 71 percent to go with 22 rebounds. Giffen and senior center Nolan Hunter led Scott with six rebounds each.
“They’re going to fight, especially in a game like this and an and environment like that,” said Steve Fromeyer, Scott head coach. “The reality is we had things right where we wanted. What we’re still trying to overcome is letting one mistake lead to another mistake. That’s coaching kids.”
Hunter and Campbell County junior power forward Conner Weinel had some nice battles in the paint. They finished with six points each.
“They’re strong, physical players. You just have to go in there, get a rebound, be tough inside and go through all the contact,” Weinel said. “The coaching staff is great with every player. They put every player in the position he’ll do the best in and that’s what will help the team win.”
The first quarter stayed tight as Howell made a three tying it at 13 going into the second quarter. The second quarter saw five lead changes before Gross hit a three and Hamilton made a free throw to give Campbell County a 26-23 halftime lead.
Tied at 31 in the third quarter, Howell scored five straight including a three-point play to give Scott a 36-31 lead. But Smith it a three to stop the run and junior forward Connor Griffin scored with 1:13 left to give the Eagles a 40-36 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Hunter gave Scott a 43-38 lead with 6:30 left in the game with a three-point play. But Campbell County scored 11 straight to go up 49-43. Jackson scored twice and had two key assists during the run.
“We were prepped for (Campbell County’s 2-3 zone),” Fromeyer said. “But when the ball sticks and suddenly we’re not getting penetration against it, they took their foot off the gas for whatever reason. We worked on it for three days this week. But whenever it’s in front of you, (Campbell County) is a long and aggressive team (and) it causes some problems. But that’s just part of the deal.”
Campbell County sophomore guard Jaidan Combs finished with eight points. He had a key run-out in the final minute with 20 seconds left to put the Camels up 55-49. Combs also put the Camels up for good at 45-43 with a lay-up with 5:32 left in the game.
“We had a good stop and got the ball up the floor fast,” Combs said. “It’s a wide-open lay-up. But sometimes, you might forget what you’re doing. It’s harder than it looks.”
The Eagles trimmed the lead to 49-46 with 1:27 left after Giffen had an offensive rebound and hit a free throw following a Hunter score and 51-49 with 57.1 seconds left when Giffen made a three. But Campbell County made 7 of 8 free throws in the game’s final 68 seconds to seal the win. Gross made all four free throws during that final stretch.
“You have to hit free throws in a game like this to pull it out,” Russell said. “Those were huge.”
Scott plays at Bourbon County (8-11) on Monday at 7 p.m. Campbell County plays host to Covington Catholic (17-2) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Highlands 69, Cooper 62
The Bluebirds (18-6) finished the week with a third road win in five days over the Jaguars (12-9).
“I told our kids in the last eight days, we’ve won four basketball games,” said Kevin Listerman, Highlands head coach. “I thought it was a huge step forward for us. I was really proud with the defense we played for the majority of the game. I think we’re growing in that regard where we’re making life difficult for teams to make shots and our rebounding has been a big part of that. We’ve done a much better job on the defensive glass.”
Highlands hit 23 of 44 shots for 53 percent including 6 of 14 for 43 percent from three-point land and 17 of 20 free throws for 85 percent to go with 19 rebounds. Junior guard Nathan Vinson led the way scoring 23 with senior guard Will Herald, senior Seth Ryan and junior Brayden Moeves scoring 16, 12 and 11 respectively. Junior Brody Benke led the Bluebirds with six rebounds.
“I think we have a well-rounded team,” Ryan said. “They got up early so we had to respond quick. Once we got the lead, we kind of played it at our pace instead of theirs.”
Herald made four three-pointers upping his school-record to 325 three-pointers made for his career. Herald is three away from former Newport Central Catholic standout Ronny Dawn at 328 and nine from former Dixie Heights standout Brandon Hatton at 334 for the most career three-pointers made in 9th Region history.
Cooper made 7 of 9 free throws for 78 percent. Senior Gavin Lutz led the Jaguars with 16 points and senior Trevor Ollier scored 11.
Cooper travels to Walton-Verona (14-7) for a 7:30 p.m. game Saturday. Highlands plays host to Ryle (8-10) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Other Boys Basketball Scores
Heritage Academy 88, Frankfort Christian 74
Bellevue 58, Dayton 34
Walton-Verona 59, Dixie Heights 51
Simon Kenton 56, Gallatin County 31
Ryle 67, Bourbon County 41
Ludlow 72, Villa Madonna 49