By: Trevor Shearer
The goal was simple: defeat everybody in your path to the championship; the ability to do it, however, would take teamwork. The Cards got the best draw for the first round as they drew Casey County like the girls. They took care of the Rebels easily, but what came next on their road to Rupp was a very good Boyle County team.
The biggest problem the Cards would face against a much better Rebel team would be handling Colton Elkins on the block, and star guard Hagen Tyler on the wings. Each team was locked onto each other for the first quarter and a half until a loose ball near half court forced a scuffle between Cardinal point guard Trey Blevins and Boyle’s Elkins. Elkins threw a punch, which got him tossed out of the game, while he and Blevins both got technical fouls for throwing elbows. The Cards took advantage of Boyle’s best player being out for the game and held a double digit lead at the half.
The game looked to be over but the Rebels had other plans. Guard Hagen Tyler seemed to score at will against the Cards’ defense. The lead was soon cut to four points and it was now a ball game. The Cards, however, pulled away in the fourth quarter winning 73-61 thanks to 28 points from Junior Peyton Woods. The next task at hand was to defeat district rival Southwestern Warriors.
From the opening tip, Sophomore Corey Stearns scored seven of Wayne’s first nine points. With great outside shooting, the Cardinals held a huge lead in the second quarter. They carried that momentum into the half with a comfortable 33-22 lead. The margin didn’t change much throughout the third quarter. With just under ten seconds, Southwestern was able to push it up the floor and hit a buzzer beater to carry momentum into the fourth being down by single digits.
Back and forth the Cardinals and Warriors ran to try to win the coveted championship. Southwestern started to find their groove to once again make it a close game. Corey Stearns, Peyton Woods, and Trey Blevins all made crucial free throws in the middle of the fourth quarter to hold a slim lead. Towards the end of the game, the Warriors had to do whatever it took to win the game. Their press caused a few turnovers that brought them within two points and sent Peyton Woods to the free throw line where he expanded it back to four. After a miscue, Wayne had the ball up four with five seconds left. The ball was thrown deep down the court to Blevins where he then passed it to Senior Jason Perkins to run out the clock.
Calvin’s Crew (student section) ran out to the court to celebrate the hard-earned victory. Coach Rodney Woods is now 9-2 in 12th Regional Championship games and has earned a spot in next week’s Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena. The Cardinals will be taking on McCracken County on Thursday, March 20th at 12:00 p.m.