The Wayne County Cardinals hosted 48th District rival McCreary Central, last Friday night at the Rodney C. Woods Gymnasium, in a matchup to decide the district's regular season. The Cards entered with a 16-9 record on the season, riding a four-game winning streak, coming off a 65-46 win at Casey County earlier in the week.  The Raiders owned an 8-14 mark overall and were coming off an eight-day layoff, after an impressive 65-39 home win over Lynn Camp.  The contest marked the 111th meeting all time between the two schools with Wayne County owning an 83-27 series advantage, which included a 71-64 overtime win three weeks earlier, at Raider Gym.

    Thomas Spencer scored a game high 25 points with 4 rebounds, 3 
assists and 3 steals, as Wayne County grabbed the lead in the opening 
seconds and never trailed throughout, claiming a berth in the 12th 
Region Tournament with the 61-52 home win.  The 6-4 senior was 10 of 
14 from the field and 5 of 8 from the free throw line, while Kameron 
Gehring added 14 points and 3 rebounds.  Gehring was 6 of 8 from the 
floor and added a free throw, as the winners improved to 17-9 on the 
season and marked their 25th straight win over the Raiders.
    "To get the automatic berth into the 12th Region Tournament is huge, 
we talked this week that you can't win it, if you're not in it, so we 
locked that up.  We maybe hyped the game up too much as I thought we 
were tight early, almost like a postseason game.  This was a good win 
for our team and that's back to back solid weeks of basketball. 
Thomas has shot the ball probably as well as anyone in the state 
since the end of December and continues to play well, while Kam had 
some huge buckets to keep momentum in the third quarter," said Cards 
head coach Rodney Woods.
    Freshman Mason Burchett connected on 5 of 8 field goal attempts, 
which included 3 of 6 from 3-point range and made 1 of 3 free throws 
to post 14 points with 2 assists.  Junior reserve forward Brody 
Weaver totaled 8 points with 4 rebounds, while Chandler Humble added 
3 rebounds with 3 assists, Bryson Tucker chipped in with 4 boards and 
senior Reese Sexton made his first appearance since the last game in 
December, as Wayne County claimed a 21-19 rebound edge.
    "Brody made some big buckets and rebounded well, Mason hit some big 
threes and even though they didn't score Bryson and Chandler did some 
good things as well on both ends.  Reese didn't play a lot, but 
certainly great to get him back into the flow.  He came in and 
provided some huge minutes in the third quarter on the defensive 
end.  This was another good team effort and team win," said Woods.
    McCreary Central, which dropped to 8-15 overall and 0-4 in district 
play, was led by the 12 points each of the senior duo of Brandon 
Longmire and Alex Heath.  Longmire was 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point 
line, while Heath was 6 of 7 from the floor and claimed a game high 6 
rebounds.  Blake Corder netted 8 points with 3 boards, while Kyle 
Stephens connected on 3 of 7 from the floor to post 7 points.  Senior 
Connor Campbell sparked the reserves with 5 points, as eight 
different Raiders scored in the contest.
    "McCreary Central has some very experienced guys and when they come 
off the bench, they get more athletic in some spots, as they have as 
much depth as anybody.  We had to change some things on our post 
defense this time around, as they were able to get too many good 
looks in our first game.  McCreary Central is a dangerous basketball 
team," said Woods.
    Wayne County opened 6 of 11 from the field and used the 8 points of 
Thomas Spencer and two threes of Mason Burchett to offset the two 
threes of Brandon Longmire, to enjoy a 16-10 first quarter lead.
    Brody Weaver provided a lift off the bench with 7 points in the 
second stanza, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer, as an 18-17 tilt 
left the score 34-27 at halftime.
    Three different Cards scored in the third period, as the squad made 
5 of 9 field goal attempts and was a perfect 3 of 3 from the free 
throw line to use a 13-10 surge to own a 47-37 edge after 24-minutes 
of play.
    Mason Burchett scored 7 points in the clutch and the Cards made just 
3 of 8 free throw attempts in the final minutes but it was enough to 
take the 61-52 home win.
    Wayne County was 24 of 39 from the field for 62 percent and that 
included a 5 of 13 mark from 3-point range for 38 percent.  The 
winners connected on 8 of 14 from the charity stripe for 57 percent 
totaled 11 assists with 5 steals against 8 turnovers.
    The Raiders shot 22 of 42 overall from the floor for 52 percent and 
that included 5 of 12 from 3-point range for 42 percent.  The squad 
converted on 3 of 4 free throw attempts for 75 percent and tallied 7 
assists with 6 steals against 8 turnovers.
    The game finalized the 48th District Tournament at the end of the 
month at Southwestern as the host Warriors will meet McCreary Central 
in the opening round, while the winner will face Wayne County in the 
championship game.
    "No question it's a relief to know that we're locked into the 
regional tournament, but we want to keep playing hard and improving 
each time out.  We have our hands more than full Tuesday with a 
Somerset team that has eight or nine guys that can score with the 
basketball.  As a team that's been seventh or eighth most of the 
season it will be nice to see how we stack up against one of the 
favorites in our region Tuesday night," said Woods.
    Wayne County will host Somerset on Tuesday but is still looking for 
a game for the weekend, as West Jessamine had to cancel Friday to 
makeup a district game postponed, due to illness.
    Details will appear in next week's edition of The Outlook.

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