The Wayne County Cardinals met host Southwestern, last Friday night at Southwestern High School Gym in the championship game of the 48th District Tournament.  The Cards entered with a bye from the regular season and owned a 17-12 mark overall, after ending the regular season with a 71-53 home loss to #3 ranked Lexington Catholic. Southwestern owned a 17-13 record overall and advanced into the matchup with a 48-45 opening round win over McCreary Central on Tuesday night.  The teams split during the regular season as the Warriors won in overtime at Wayne County on December 13  69-64 and the Cards repaid the favor on January 31 75-70, at Southwestern.

    The contest marked the 59th meeting all time between the rivals with 
the Cards holding a 33-25 series advantage and Wayne was looking for 
their 31st district title overall and sixth in seven years.
    Southwestern led at the end of one period 21-13, led at the half 
38-32 and enjoyed a 56-51 edge after three but it was Wayne County 
that led when it mattered the most with a 26-20 run to claim a 77-76 
district championship win.  Senior forward Thomas Spencer scored a 
game high 25 points, with 13 of those coming in the decisive fourth 
quarter and added 5 rebounds, while logging all 32-minutes.  The 6-4 
forward was 7 of 13 from the field and 11 of 15 from the free throw 
line, while 6-1 senior Reese Sexton kept the Cards in it early, 
scoring 14 of his 16 points off the bench in the first half.
    Sexton made 5 of 8 from the floor, which included 4 of 5 from 3-
point range and 2 of 2 from the free throw line, as the winners 
improved to 18-12 on the season.
    "This was a very good win for our basketball team and we had to 
battle for 32-minutes.  We won twelve or thirteen district titles in 
a row at one time and maybe we got spoiled but none of them are ever 
easy and this was no different.  For four years we've challenged 
Thomas to want the basketball and want to be the guy that wants it in 
the fourth quarter and man he responded in this game.  Just a huge 
effort on both ends of the floor and I was really happy for Reese as 
well, as he made some huge shots, especially early when we were 
struggling.  He's a shooter and he shot it really well, plus what a 
nice fourth quarter for Chandler Humble.  They were laying off him 
and we said next time they slag off be behind the 3-point line and 
drill it, he did and then hit another big one," said Cards head coach 
Rodney Woods.
    Humble, a 6-1 senior forward, scored 11 points with 4 rebounds, 
connecting on both 3-pointers attempted and 4 of 5 shots overall. 
Kameron Gehring finished 6 of 11 from the field and 3 of 4 from the 
free throw line to add 15 points with a game high 7 assists, plus 
grabbed 3 steals and earned high praise from the veteran head coach.
    "I've coached a lot of great players that I really enjoyed but I 
don't know if I've ever enjoyed coaching any kid as much as Kameron. 
He takes ownership, accepts coaching and criticism, plus he just 
plays with such a high motor, so competitive.  This team will finish 
as the best shooting team we've ever had not only from the field but 
also from three, one thing we do pretty well most nights is shoot the 
basketball.  Happy for our team and our seniors as these guys 
continue to work extremely hard and are just great students as well. 
Bryson Tucker is another that hit some big threes as well tonight," 
said Woods.
    Tucker was 3 of 4 from the field to net 8 points with 2 boards, 
while Brody Weaver battled foul-problems to add 2 points, while Mason 
Burchett battled thru a scoreless night to grab 5 rebounds, as six 
different Cards etched the scoring margin.
    Southwestern, which dropped to 17-14, was led by the 18 points and 4 
assists of 5-9 guard Cole Dysinger.  The senior stalwart was 6 of 18 
from the field and a perfect 4 of 4 from the free throw line, while 
6-4 senior Brayden Sims posted 15 points and 6 rebounds.  Sims was 7 
of 9 from the floor and one of two from the free throw line, while 
the duo of Hunter Coffey and Andrew Smith both added stat-lines of 8 
points with 6 rebounds, as the Warriors enjoyed a 34-22 rebounding 
    "Southwestern is so physical on both ends of the floor and playing 
thru their physicality was a big key," said Woods.
    Andrew Jones totaled 9 points off the bench, while Tanner McKee 
added 8 points, all in the fourth quarter.  Chase Eastham and Cameron 
Pierce both tallied 5 points each, as eight different Warriors scored 
in the matchup.
    Six different Southwestern players scored in the first quarter as 
the hosts made 10 of 13 field goal attempts and raced to 21-13 edge, 
as Wayne stayed close with the 8 points of Kameron Gehring.
    Reese Sexton exploded for 14 points in the second period, aided by 4 
3-pointers, as the Cards used a 19-17 tilt to close the gap to 38-32 
at intermission.
    Brayden Sims scored 7 points in the third frame to offset the 
balanced attack by Wayne County as the Cards used a 19-18 clip to 
close the gap to 56-51 after 24-minutes of play.
    The lead changed several times down the stretch, but it was a foul 
that sent Thomas Spencer to the free throw line with 1.9 seconds left 
that would seal the championship.  Spencer connected on the first 
free throw and missed the second to give the Cards a 77-76 lead and 
then would swat the inbounds pass away, as Southwestern wouldn't 
score again and Wayne County claimed the 77-76 win.
    The Cards finished 26 of 49 overall from the field for 53 percent 
and that included an 8 of 19 clip from 3-point range for 42 percent. 
The winners connected on 17 of 25 free throw attempts for 68 percent 
and totaled 13 assists with 5 steals against 7 turnovers.
    Southwestern countered with 32 of 59 shooting overall for 54 percent 
and that included a 5 of 13 mark from 3-point range for 38 percent.
    The squad made 7 of 9 free throw attempts for 78 percent and tallied 
14 assists with 4 steals against 9 turnovers.
    At the conclusion of the tournament Alex Heath, Kyle Stephens of 
McCreary Central joined Cole Dysinger, Brayden Sims and Hunter Coffey 
of Southwestern and the Wayne County foursome of Kameron Gehring, 
Thomas Spencer, Reese Sexton and Chandler Humble on the All-
Tournament team.
    Up next for the Cards is a Thursday night 8 p.m. date with Danville, 
the runner-up out of the 45th District and 21-12 on the season, in 
the 12th Region Tournament at Pulaski County High School Gym. 
Details on all the action will appear in next week's edition of The Outlook.

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