HOPKINSVILLE – A year has made a big difference for Christian County, which lost a core group of seniors and a veteran coach who led them to a state basketball championship last season.
But it’s still a proud and dangerous team, Marshall County coach Gus Gillespie told his players, and the Marshals took their coach seriously and fashioned a 62-41 win over the Colonels Friday night.
It capped a 2-0 week for the Marshals as the regular season came to an end. Marshall County defeated Mayfield at home Tuesday night.
The win at Christian County was their fifth straight, 14th in their last 15 games and 27th overall against two defeats.
The team extended its school record for number of victories in a season.
“I’m proud of this team,” Gillespie said. “It’s tough to come over here and try to win.”
Gillespie called the Colonels “a team that’s scary, because although their record is not stellar (7-20), their schedule’s been competitive and they’re still very capable of beating anyone.”
The Marshals led 15-12 at the end of the first quarter and steadily pulled away.
The winners scored 15, 14, 16 and 17 points in the four periods of play, but Gillespie said, “I thought every quarter, we played a little bit better tonight.”
The difference, Gillespie said, was defense. First-year Christian County head coach Tyler Smithhart agreed.
“They matched up with us a little bit out of the zone” in the third quarter, Smithhart said.
Gillespie said the strategy is to change the defensive look frequently.
“They were attacking us a little bit in our man, and we’ve been playing a little bit more zone more often,” the Marshals coach said. “That’s something that we’ve prepared for and it did get them standing around and shooting some three-pointers out of rhythm.”
His team also did a much better job of rebounding in the second half, Gillespie said.
The Marshals got 15 points and eight rebounds from Chase Clark, despite foul trouble that sent the junior to the bench for nearly a third of the game’s 32 minutes.
Cole Nelson and Austin Rentfrow added 11 points apiece.
C.J. Cotton was the only player in double figures for the Colonels with 11 points.
Marshall County 62
DRAFFENVILLE – Defensive quickness and red-hot shooting powered Marshall County to victory Tuesday night at Reed Conder Gymnasium.
Marshal defenders positioned themselves in the path of drives to the basket by the Cardinals, who were whistled for six charges in an 11-minute stretch including the final three minutes of the second quarter and the entire third period.
Those calls help the Marshals outscore Mayfield 26-6 in the third quarter to turn a five-point game into a blowout.
Senior Chase York, junior Chase Clark and sophomore Austin Rentfrow fueled the barrage.
Rentfrow, a 6-5 center, already had 10 points in first-half action when he took a bullet pass from Chase Buchanan and got the first points after intermission and later added another basket in the third period that pushed the lead to 41-21.
York had three three-point plays, two on back-to-back long-distance jump shots and the third on a steal, layup and free throw, and Clark had back-to-back baskets, one from three-point range.
Reserves Noah Steele, Logan Taylor and Peter Northcutt scored consecutive baskets to close out the period.
The Marshals shot 60 percent from the floor from both two-point and three-point range and had the same figure from the free-throw line. On the other end of the court, their defense held Mayfield to 31 percent from the floor, 25 percent from long range.
It was the second straight win for the Marshals over a top team from the neighboring Third District. Marshall County knocked off St. Mary, which tied Mayfield for the top spot in their district, 62-51 on Saturday night.
Rentfrow led the 26-2 Marshals with 16 points and Clark added 11. Trey Whitnell paced the Cardinals, 16-9, with 12 points.
Prior to the game, six seniors from the basketball team were honored along with other winter sport athletes and cheerleaders.