Trimble County’s Evan Long (above) looks to pass around South Oldham’s Kyle Young. Long was pressed into ball-handling duties after starting point guard Andrew Young was injured in the second quarter. Trimble forward Michael Dunaway (below) smacks the Dragons’ Jonathan Blair across the face while blocking Blair’s shot. Dunaway was one of two Raiders who fouled out of the game. (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
Trimble County’s Evan Long (above) looks to pass around South Oldham’s Kyle Young. Long was pressed into ball-handling duties after starting point guard Andrew Young was injured in the second quarter. Trimble forward Michael Dunaway (below) smacks the Dragons’ Jonathan Blair across the face while blocking Blair’s shot. Dunaway was one of two Raiders who fouled out of the game. (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
Shortly after a running clock counted down South Oldham's 93-40 boys district basketball win at Trimble County Monday night, Raiders head coach John Leep III savored a little morsel of victory on a line in the scorebook that few coaches associate with winning.

Run out of its own gym by the defending district and regional champions, Trimble had been whistled for a game-high 26 fouls including a technical and that, to Leep, was proof that despite the final score the Raiders never backed down from the Dragons. Given South Oldham's dominance of their recent meetings, the fact that his Raiders were inclined to return a little smack was cause for optimism.

"The four times that we've played South in the past we haven't battled them," the third year head coach said. "We battled them in the first half tonight. I don't know if we've ever even put them in the bonus before. Tonight we came out and we checked their chin a little bit and I was proud of that. We were more physical than we've been. It was a small step forward and a small victory."

That's not to say that Leep wanted his squad to take shots at the Dragons. He just didn't want them to lay down and accept another beating without fighting back. South Oldham came into the game with nine seniors while the Raiders had just nine players total ready for action and several of them would have played junior varsity if that game hadn't been canceled due to Trimble's lack of numbers.

"They're a good team. They've got eight or nine seniors and they spread the floor really well. They don't really have one guy - No. 12 Kyle Young is probably their best player - but there's no dropoff from one to 10 on their bench," Leep said of South. "They are really difficult to guard. They made a lot of 3s and obviously that's their hallmark, but I thought in the first half we battled and we attacked."

The Dragons knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter while rolling out to a 26-10 lead after the first eight minutes of play. Trimble executed a little better in the second quarter but South Oldham still led 56-28 at halftime after Trimble starting point guard Andrew Young left the game with a leg injury midway through the second period.

"Losing our point guard Andy Young hurt us," Leep admitted. "Not having him out there hurt us because he's been shouldering the entire load in the ball-handling. Losing him killed us.

"Then we had to put Evan (Long) on the ball and that just really zapped him," Leep added. "But that's all I can ask them to do. They play as long as they can and as hard as they can and when they can't go any more I've got to get them out and our depth is just not where it needs to be."

The problems South Oldham created for Trimble ran deeper than just depth. The Dragons also created serious match-up problems for the Raiders as Leep shifted players around to keep five on the floor.

"We're starting three bigs who are used to guarding a post player and two of them were guarding a small, quick guard tonight," Leep said. "They were just out of their element. If they sagged off of them, they shoot wide-open 3s and if they get right up on them, they go by them. So instead of letting them shoot lay ups, we just fouled them. It's just a fact of the game."

In the end, South Oldham hit 11 3-pointers to go with 21 field goals - most of which came on drives to the basket - while going to the foul line 28 times and hitting 18. On a night in which Trimble County was forced to give up something just to match up with the Dragons, South Oldham capitalized across the board.

Young, the Dragons' 6-foot senior guard, led all scorers with 26 points while 6-foot-4 senior forward Drew Horsey and 6-foot-1 senior reserve forward Scott Moore added 10 points each. South (3-1) also had three players just a point out of double figures as Michael Griffin, Drew Greenwood and Jacob Roy scored nine points each.

Sophomore forwards Michael Dunaway and Josh Rexroat scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, to lead Trimble, Long hit for six points and Dalton James scored three.

Both Dunaway and James fouled out - James with 2:42 left in the third period and Dunaway with 14 seconds left in that quarter - but by then South Oldham had amassed the 35-point cushion necessary to invoke the running clock. The game wound down quickly at that point with the Raiders dropping to 0-5 on the season.

"Adversity and tough stretches really show what your team is made of and I think with the holidays coming up and some time to reflect and some time to get in the gym and bond we'll come through this all right," Leep said, "We should have all our guys back after this weekend. It's going to go one of two ways. The tide raises all the ships or it sinks them. I think we've got the people in place to rally and our schedule will lighten up a little bit."

According to Leep, Trimble has been fighting through a perfect storm of misfortune this year. After going 15-11 last year but still not reaching any of its real goals, it was decided to toughen up the schedule this year. However, the team has struggled with a couple of key injures and an eligibility issue early on.

"We were 15-11 last year and everybody says 'Great, you guys are awesome,' but if that team plays this schedule ...?" Leep said. "Once we have all our pieces we will be significantly better but right now we are not.

"Our district is just really tough and our schedule is much tougher this year by design because if we are ever going to accomplish any of our goals that's what we need," Leep added. "We've still got our same goals - to win the All 'A' Regional and to win a game in the district tournament so we can go to the regional tournament. If you just schedule anybody it might make you feel good but you're not going to accomplish any real goals. We beefed the schedule up this year and we're tasting it right now."

Leep said the tough lessens and beating the Raiders are taking right now could still pave the way to better things in the end. Either way, regular season games are just that: Regular.

"If they're not putting the ladder out on the court at the end, it means nothing," Leep said. "Your midterm is the Class A tournament and the district is your final exam. Everything leading up to that is just less ... It's all just days in the classroom getting stronger and stronger and fine-tuning everything for those tests. If you don't cut the nets down you don't pass the test."

Trimble hosts Nelson County (2-1) on Thursday in Bedford.

---

MONDAY'S BOYS GAME

at Bedford, Ky.

SOUTH OLDHAM 93, TRIMBLE CO. 40



SOUTH OLDHAM 26 30 22 15 - 93

TRIMBLE CO. 10 28 40 0 - 40



SOUTH OLDHAM (3-1) - (g)Young 26, (f)Horsey 10, Moore 10, (g)Griffin 9, (g)Greenwood 9, Roy 9, Fields 6, Bullock 5, (g) Blair 4, McWilliams 2, Williams 2, Bouvet 1.

TRIMBLE CO. (0-5) - (f)Dunaway 16, (f)Rexroat 15, (g)Long 6, (f)James 3, (g)An. Young 0, Blanton 0, Ad. Young 0, Adair 0, Sachleben 0.



3-Point Goals - South Oldham 11 (Griffin 2, Horsey 2, Roy 2, Moore 2, Young 1, Greenwood 1, Bullock 1), Trimble Co. 1 (Dunaway 1). Free Throws - South Oldham 18-28, Trimble Co. 13-17. Total Fouls - South Oldham 21, Trimble Co. 26. Technical Fouls - South Oldham: None, Trimble Co. Long. Fouled Out - South Oldham: None, Trimble Co.: James, Dunaway. Next Game - South Oldham hosts Spencer Co. tonight, Trimble Co. hosts Nelson Co. Thursday.