Carroll County won its first All “A” Classic Eighth Region Championship (above) since 2005, 42-39 over Owen County on Monday. The Panthers’ Boo Donahue (below, 11), Jacob Wise (10) and Isaiah Hogan celebrate after the final horn. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Carroll County won its first All “A” Classic Eighth Region Championship (above) since 2005, 42-39 over Owen County on Monday. The Panthers’ Boo Donahue (below, 11), Jacob Wise (10) and Isaiah Hogan celebrate after the final horn. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
EMINENCE, Ky. - Carroll County's defense has gelled at just the right time and the Panthers rode that 'D' to the All "A" Classic Eighth Region championship on Monday.

The Panthers' zone defense kept Owen County's outstanding 6-foot-5 forward Carson Williams in check and held the Rebels to just 37 percent shooting from the floor in a 42-39 win.

But the defense's biggest contribution came on the final play of the game. Just like Sunday's semifinal win over Trimble County, Carroll County held strong and denied Owen an attempt at a potential game-winner to escape with the three-point win and its first Eighth Region crown since 2005.

"It was awesome. An unbelievable experience," said Carroll County senior Austin Crowell, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. "We haven't been here for a long time. It was just a total team effort."

Carroll County (11-8) advances to the All "A" Classic State Finals in Frankfort where it will take on Cordia (13-5) in the opening round at the Frankfort Civic Center on Thursday at 8 p.m.

The Panthers made every play down the stretch to pull out the win against their 31st District rivals.

Owen County (10-6) tied the game 35-35 on a Jarrod Ball jumper with 4:08 left in regulation but Carroll County took the lead for good on Crowell's third 3-pointer of the game with 2:20 to play.

But the Rebels were not out of it. Williams, who was "held" to 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting, hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one with 1:11 left. Owen County then stole the inbounds pass to put itself in contention to take the lead.

But Carroll County never let that happen. The Panthers forced an Owen turnover with 42 seconds left to regain possession. The Rebels - who had been called for only two team fouls at that point - were then forced to commit five quick fouls just to send the Panthers to the line.

When Isaiah Hogan finally toed the line for Carroll, only 33.8 seconds remained in the game. The sophomore calmly hit both shots to push the lead back to three.

Williams scored a big basket on the other end, but Carroll's defense made him work for the points. Williams missed two point-blank lay-ups against the Panther defense but grabbed his own misses both times before putting the ball in the hoop.

The sequence ran off nearly 20 seconds of game time and only 7.2 seconds remained when Hogan went back to the line. Again the sophomore answered with two shots to push the lead back to two.

Carroll County opted against fouling Owen on the final play, deciding instead to just dig in and play defense. The decision worked out perfectly when the Panthers forced a bad cross-court pass that the Rebels' Hunter Trenary had to dive after just to keep it in bounds. Hogan scooped up the loose ball and ran out the clock to start Carroll's celebration.

"We executed our game-plan beautifully throughout the entire game," Carroll County head coach Carroll Yager said. "We talked early on that if we were going to do anything special we had to play good defense. And we played good defense tonight."

Williams and Trenary combined to score their team's first 10 points as Owen County jumped out to a 10-4 lead. Carroll County began chipping away but the Panthers still trailed 12-8 at the break.

The game changed, however, in the second quarter. Carroll's defense, coupled with a pair of Crowell 3-pointers, led to a 12-1 run that gave the Panthers a 20-13 lead as Carroll County outscored Owen 16-4 overall in the quarter to lead 24-16 at halftime.

"They came out early and hit some shots but we didn't panic and stayed with our game plan," Yager said. "The guys believed in what we were doing and it worked all three games we played."

Crowell finished the game with a team-high 13 points but his MVP performance stretched over several games, going back to the game-winner over Trimble County on Sunday.

"I put faith in all my practice and my teammates," Crowell said. "And I owe it all to the Big Man. He helped us through it."

"(Crowell) had a great tournament. He hit the shot last night that won it for us and he handled the ball all throughout the three games," Yager said. "We only had five turnovers last night and that's excellent."

Jacob Wise, who joined Crowell and teammates Dakota Corbin and Hogan on the all-tournament team, scored 10 points and had three assists for the Panthers.

Williams, one of the best young players in northern Kentucky, was held in check by Carroll County's physical zone defense. Williams had 14 rebounds to go with his 14 points and also had three assists. Trenary had 11 points.

"We did our best to slow him down," Yager said of Williams. "You can never stop him but we did our best to slow him down."

Owen County was just 14-for-38 (37 percent) from the floor and 3-of-16 (19 percent on 3-point attempts. Carroll, on the other hand, hit 15-of-32 (47 percent) overall and 5-of-11 (45 percent) from behind the arc.

Carroll County turned the ball over just nine times to Owen's 11 and was out-rebounded 25-13.

Williams, Trenary and Jarrod Ball were each named to the all-tournament team from Owen County as was Michael Dunaway and Evan Long from Trimble County. The rest of the all-tournament team included: Jalen Dixie, Eminence; David Jump, Williamstown; Kaleb Beckham, Gallatin County; and Kyle Kidman, Walton-Verona.

The victory sends Carroll County onto the state finals for the first time since 2005 where the Panthers will face Cordia in the opening round. The current Panther seniors were in third grade the last time the team made the trip and they're just happy to be moving on.

"I've heard that Cordia is long and strong but I'm just ready to take on the challenge," Crowell said. "I'm happy to go to state."



Eighth Region Tournament

Monday's Championship

at Eminence, Ky.


CARROLL CO. 8 16 9 9 - 42

OWEN CO. 12 4 13 10 - 39

CARROLL CO. (11-8) - (g)Crowell 13, (f)Wise 10, (g)Hogan 9, (f)Adams 8, (c)D. Corbin 2, Donahue 0, Kruzan 0.

OWEN CO. (10-6) - (f)Williams 14, (g)H. Trenary 11, (f)Tackett 7, (g)Ball 4, McDonald 3, (g)T. Trenary 0, Toftness 0, Lykins 0, Osborne 0.

3-Point Goals - Carroll Co. 5 (Crowell 3, Adams 1, Hogan 1), Owen Co. 3 (McDonald 1, H. Trenary 1, Tackett 1). Rebounds - Carroll Co. 13 (Adams 5, D. Corbin 5), Owen Co. 25 (Williams 14). Assists - Carroll Co. 7 (Wise 3), Owen Co. 7 (Williams 3). Turnovers - Carroll Co. 9, Owen Co. 11. Total Fouls - Carroll Co. 11, Owen Co. 14. Free Throws - Carroll Co. 7-8, Owen Co. 8-11. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Carroll Co. plays Cordia in the All "A" Classic State Finals in Frankfort on Thursday. Owen Co. hosts Simon Kenton Feb. 4.