With an annual All “A” powerhouse and a prior state semifinalist in their district, Campbell County’s run of district titles in the 37th District is quite the feat.
They added to that run of titles on Thursday, claiming their 10th straight district championship with a 50-44 victory over Scott at Campbell County Middle School.
Camels coach Aric Russell admitted this one may have been the hardest to obtain, dealing with adversity even before the season started.
“This one was really special because we kind of had a cloud over us at the beginning of our season and these kids had to fight through a lot,” Russell said. “We had to figure out a lot of new guys with different things that we weren’t planning on with different roles and they stepped into it. We stuck with it and I felt we played really well. This one is very special, this is number 10. I don’t know why, it’s just super special to me.”
It’s never easy in the 37th, much like Thursday’s contest that was a flat out physical war. Neither team shooting it well didn’t help either as they combined for just four makes from beyond the arc on over 20 attempts.
But when things came down to crunch time, the Camels turned to the 10th Region Coaches Association Player of the Year in Aydan Hamilton and another senior and recent 1,000-point career scorer Jake Gross. Hamilton, normally getting his from the perimeter and driving to the lane, did his dirty work in the paint in the second half, the Camels often posting him up. Hamilton started the second half with a layup followed by a Jake Gross 3-pointer to give them a 27-22 lead.
“I felt like that was gonna be our our advantage coming in the third quarter because nobody was hitting from the outside. I didn’t want to come out and jack a bunch of threes. We ran a play to get Aydan in the post, scored, Jake hits a three. Out of every timeout I ran a play to get Aydan in the post. He was either getting fouled or he was scoring. I told him he needed to go off two feet and finish strong and he did that,” Russell said.
Taking a 33-32 advantage into the fourth, Hamilton scored the Camels first 11 points of the quarter as they built a 44-37 lead with 2:40 to play.
“I knew I had a smaller guy on me. And they knew if I had a smaller guy, just get the ball to me and let me go to work,” Hamilton said. “Very physical game. First half Giffen did a hell of a job guarding me. I was very limited to what I was doing.”
Hamilton and Gross combined for 26 of the Camels 28 points in the second half.
“We just handled the pressure, knew they were going to come out physical so we just had to handle that, keep the ball under control and not have turnovers,” Gross said.
The Eagles were able to get within four on three different occasions from there, but were unable to find the 3-point shot like they struggled with for the majority of the night and missed two key free throws down the stretch, one of them on a front end of a 1-and-1.
Scott led the majority of the first half, jumping out to a 13-8 lead after one and the two going into halftime tied at 22.
“They had a heck of a game plan. Played their butts off tonight and coach Fromeyer always does an excellent job,” Russell said.
Now Scott enters the 10th Region tournament as a No. 2 seed that starts on Wednesday at the Mason County Fieldhouse. Jon Evans led the Eagles with 15 points, no one else with more than seven.
“Nate Smith, I put him on All-Tournament team tonight because his defense was unbelievable tonight. Jaiden Combs played great defense, we played really good defense tonight,” Russell said.
The Camels will go into Saturday’s 10th Region tournament draw as one of the four No. 1 seeds along with Mason County and George Rogers Clark with the Harrison County-Nicholas County winner to be determined Friday night in the 38th District championship.
Along with Scott, the Harrison-Nicholas loser, Augusta and Paris are the No. 2 seeds. The draw is Saturday morning at Harrison County.
“More than any other year, I felt like the one seed was huge in the 10th Region tournament. For a two-seed going in, there’s not one good draw. That’s huge for us,” Russell said. “We just need to keep doing what we’re doing on the defensive end and rebound the ball a little bit better.”
Hamilton finished with 23 to lead the Camels, 17 of them coming in the second half. Jake Gross added 16 while Connor Weinel had eight.
SCOTT — 13-9-10-12 — 44
CAMPBELL COUNTY — 8-14-11-17 — 50
Scott (44) – Evans 15, Howell 7, Giffen 7, Hunter 5, Sarakatsannis 5, Coleman 5
Campbell (50) – Hamilton 23, Gross 16, Weinel 8, Combs 3