Sometimes, individuals get one bad french fry in the bunch.
The Jan. 26 game against University Heights in the All ‘A’ Classic was just that for the Fort Knox Eagles.
Fort Knox used a furious rally to trim an 18-point halftime deficit to four in the third period, but couldn’t keep the momentum going in the fourth as the Blazers poured it on.
The Eagles went nearly six minutes without making a basket in the final period, finishing just 2-of-11 from the floor, as University Heights pulled away for an 80-56 victory in the first round of the small-school state tournament at the Frankfort Convention Center.
“This is just one
of those french fries in the bag that wasn’t that perfect french
fry,” Fort Knox coach Kip Rambo said.
Playing in the All ‘A’ for the first time in 16 seasons, the Eagles (6-13) played pretty well in the first and third quarters. It was the second and fourth periods that gave them the most trouble.
Fort Knox took a 20-19 lead—its only advantage of the game—to open the second quarter on a shot in the lane by senior forward Camron Gore. University Heights surged back in front, taking a 24-20 lead before Fort Knox senior forward Matthew Rivera made a jumper.
That’s when the Eagles went cold, getting outscored 20-4 the rest of the quarter as the Blazers took a 44-26 lead into the half.
“I tried to stay positive,” Fort Knox junior guard Joshua DeRivas said of the halftime deficit. “If you stay positive, your whole team is going to be thinking ‘Next play, next play’ instead of thinking about the screw-up that you just did. We just tried stay positive the whole game.”
That positivity took off in the third quarter.
The Eagles used a 15-0 run, spurred by seven points from senior guard Devon Horne and six from senior forward Kamoni Green, to pull within 44-41. Horne drained a 3-pointer with 3:33 to go in the period, prompting a timeout by University Heights coach Grant Shouse.
“At halftime, we talked about 16 minutes isn’t a full game,” he said. “We wanted to get back out and pick up where we left off, but hat’s off to Fort Knox. I told these guys after the game that we lost a 50-50 ball in the lane that they laid in, and that really started their momentum.
“We needed a bucket, we need a basket to try and break that run. I can’t remember anybody having a run like that against us this year. There’s been some small ones, but to cut it all the way down to three or four or whatever it got to was pretty scary. But we tried not to panic and just tried to put one ball in the basket and stop the momentum. We had to play better on the defensive end, and fortunately we were able to do that.”
The Blazers switched to a full-court press coming out of the timeout, and it allowed them to take control again.
University Heights got some easy points in transition off turnovers, taking a 55-47 lead into the fourth quarter.
“I think we came out and we shocked them the third quarter,” Gore said. “They were surprised. But when we had a couple of people get in foul trouble, it hurt us. Some of the people on the bench aren’t used to playing much, but they’ve got to be ready to come in. With some of the changes we had to make, it kind of hurt us. But we made our run and then they made theirs. Basketball is a game of runs. We had a good one, but they had a better one at the end of the game.”
That’s an understatement.
The Blazers held the Eagles without a field goal until the 2:36 mark of the final period, building a more than comfortable lead along the way.
Fort Knox never got closer than 15 points in the final 3:41, after senior center Christopher Baldwin hit a pair of free throws to make it 67-52.
“We cut it down, but then we let it slip away,” Green said.
Gore led Fort Knox with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Horne finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Green scored 12 and DeRivas chipped in with nine points, four assists, two steals and two rebounds.
The Eagles shot just 32 percent (8-of-25) in the second half after making 42.9 percent (12-of-28) in the first 16 minutes. They turned the ball over 15 times, with University Heights scoring 22 points off the miscues.
Though the team came up short, Fort Knox players are looking ahead to next year for another shot at qualifying for the All ‘A.’
“We look at it as a good experience,” DeRivas said. “It’s the first time we’ve been here in a long while. But we know what we have to do for the regular season, just keep the momentum going high and don’t slow down.”
Rambo believes the Eagles can make another run as well.
“I think we’ll surprise some people next year, yeah,” he said. “We’ve got some kids out right now rehabbing injuries that affected our depth chart. That’s a small-school dilemma, to see if you can stay healthy. But we’ve got some nice kids coming back, and we’ve got a bunch of real nice young kids that I’m pretty sure with offseason work will come up and have a pretty nice squad next year.”
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS 80,
FORT KNOX 56
Univ. Heights 19 25 11 25—80
Fort Knox 18 8 21 9—56
University Heights (11-10)
Dekeyvan Tandy 30, Tavion Hollowell 15, Jordan Johnson 13, Taquan Hollowell 9, Drew McGowan 9, Dylan Edmonson 3, K.J. Crump 1. FG: 32-68. FT: 6-13. 3-pointers: 10-25 (Johnson 2-3, Tandy 2-4, McGowan 2-6, Tavion Hollowell 2-6, Edmonson 1-1, Taquan Hollowell 1-2, Jaylen Brown 0-1, Crump 0-2). Rebounds: 39 (Taquan Hollowell 13, Tavion Hollowell 6, Tandy 6). Assists: 17 (Tavion Hollowell 7, Lovan 4). Steals: 10 (Tavion Hollowell 4, McGowan 3).
Fort Knox (6-12)
Camron Gore 14, Kamoni Green 12, Devon Horne 12, Joshua DeRivas 9, Christopher Baldwin 6, Matthew Rivera 3. FG: 20-53. FT: 13-18. 3-pointers: 3-13 (Horne 2-2, DeRivas 1-6, Gore 0-1, Green 0-1, Jalen Eakins 0-1, Maleeq Walters 0-1, Jacob Roewe 0-1). Rebounds: 31 (Gore 9, Horne 6). Assists: 6 (DeRivas 4, Gore 2). Steals: 4 (DeRivas 2, Gore 1, Green 1). n