TOUGH NIGHT: Carroll County’s (above, from left) Dakota Corbin, Jacob Wise and Austin Crowell watch from the bench during the closing minutes of the Panthers’ 72-42 loss to Cordia in the All “A” Classic State Finals on Thursday. Cordia’s 7-foot eighth grader Oumar Keita (below, 55) blocks Crowell’s drive to the basket. Cordia’s size played a big part in the win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
TOUGH NIGHT: Carroll County’s (above, from left) Dakota Corbin, Jacob Wise and Austin Crowell watch from the bench during the closing minutes of the Panthers’ 72-42 loss to Cordia in the All “A” Classic State Finals on Thursday. Cordia’s 7-foot eighth grader Oumar Keita (below, 55) blocks Crowell’s drive to the basket. Cordia’s size played a big part in the win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Cordia's combination of size and athleticism was too much for Carroll County to overcome in a 72-42 loss in the opening round of the boys All "A" Classic State Finals in Frankfort on Thursday.

Three of Cordia's starting five stood at least 6-foot-2, including 7-foot eighth grader Oumar Keita, who patrolled the paint. The Lions also brought 6-foot-8 senior Fritz Lucien off the bench.

But Cordia wasn't just big. The Lions' length bothered Carroll County's shooters all night and the Panthers were unable to sustain any of their normal offense in the loss.

"They probably were bigger at every position and maybe even quicker at every position," Carroll County head coach Carroll Yager said. "We have not played a team on our schedule, and probably won't play after tonight, that has that quickness and length. We were really just trying to learn to play against a team like that. I thought our effort was good and I was proud of the guys. Now we want to go home and continue to build on what we did in the regional tournament."

Carroll County (11-9) had no choice but to zone Cordia in an effort to negate the Lions' size and for the most part the defense worked early. Keita and Lucien got few offensive touches in the first half and the Panthers held their own in the paint.

But Cordia (14-5) splashed water on that plan with its outside shooting and jumpshots. Six-foot-two senior Christen Cunningham scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the first half, most on pull-up jumpers and drives to the basket.

With Cunningham slicing up the zone, the Panthers had no choice but to pull away from the paint and that's when Cordia went to work. The Lions led 14-6 after the first quarter and 29-15 at halftime.

"If guys on our team hit shots that makes us a pretty hard team to guard," said Cordia coach Rodrick Rhodes. "Brian Jones opened the game with a few threes, A.J. Tagaloa had a few threes. Once we have that going, we become very tough with our size inside."

Carroll County trailed by 14 at the beginning of the second half and Dakota Corbin closed the gap to two with a short jumper to start the quarter. But Cordia quickly pulled away and held a 51-29 cushion after the third quarter.

The Panthers closed the margin to 21 on a pair of Isaiah Hogan free throws midway through the fourth but Carroll got no closer. Starting at the three-minute mark, Yager began to substitute liberally and the last few minutes of the game was a contest between the teams' benches.

With an enrollment of just 99, Cordia is the smallest school in the tournament. Rhodes, who played on Kentucky's 1993 Final Four team, said the key for his team's success was just to have them in the right mindset to play.

"I think our team really embraced the mentality of the tournament," Rhodes said. "I was always told by coach (Rick) Pitino that tournament-time is when you have the most fun and I think the kids really embraced that. Most of the times teams play really tight in the tournament but we want them to have fun and I think they did that tonight."

Cordia shot an even 50 percent (26-for-52) from the floor, including 7-of-20 from the arc and 13-of-16 from the free-throw line. Carroll County shot better from 3-point range (8-of-18) than from two (4-of-21) and was 30.8 percent overall.

Cordia held a 35-25 rebounding edge with Lucien grabbing 12 boards. Carroll County had 16 turnovers to Cordia's seven.

Cordia advances to the quarterfinals where it will take on St. Mary at 9:30 p.m. today. St. Mary (16-5) defeated Bishop Brossart (19-2) 38-36 in Thursday's final opening round game.

For Carroll County, it's back to the regular season. The Panthers have a scheduled game at Eminence on Saturday and will host Trimble County on Tuesday.

"For a lot of teams, the All 'A' tournament is the highlight of the year," Yager said. "We want to use what we learned tonight to get better and build on the momentum of the past few weeks. And Cordia is the kind of team that we can learn from."

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ALL "A" CLASSIC

State Tournament

Thursday's Opening Round

at Frankfort, Ky.

CORDIA 72, CARROLL CO. 42



CARROLL CO. 6 9 14 13 - 42

CORDIA 14 15 22 21 - 72



CARROLL CO. (11-9) - (g)Crowell 9, (c)D. Corbin 9, (g)Hogan 8, (f)Wise 6, (f)Adams 3, McMahan 3, Kruzan 2, Ray 1, Schirmer 1, Stewart 0, Donahue 0, Evans 0, Crank 0, Willhoite 0, M. Corbin 0.

CORDIA (14-5) - (g)Cunningham 17, Lucien 14, (g)Tagaloa 10, (f)Jones 8, Catchings 8, (c)Keita 6, Chisolm 4, Frimpong 4, (f)Cornett 1, Biallas 0, Smith 0.



3-Point Goals - Carroll Co. 8 (Crowell 3, Wise 1, Adams 1, Hogan 1, D. Corbin 1, McMahan 1), Cordia 7 (Tagaloa 2, Lucien 2, Jones 2, Catchings 1). Rebounds - Carroll Co. 25 (D. Corbin 4, Kruzan 4), Cordia 35 (Lucien 12). Assists - Carroll Co. 10 (Wise 3, Adams 3), Cordia 10 (Cunningham 7). Turnovers - Carroll Co. 16, Cordia 7. Total Fouls - Carroll Co. 12, Cordia 18. Free Throws - Carroll Co. 10-17, Cordia 13-16. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Carroll Co. visits Eminence Saturday. Cordia plays St. Mary in the All "A" Classic quarterfinals tonight.