Elizabethtown, KY- In front of a packed crowd, John Hardin got revenge against Etown in a 75-72 thriller. The Bulldawgs improved to 24-1 and are at the top of the 5th region standings with Etown right behind with a 18-2 record. Both of these teams are strong! Too bad only 1 team per region makes it to Rupp. If the 16 best went, you’d see both squads there for sure.
The game was a tale of two halves. John Hardin exploded from the tip and looked as if it would be a rout against their rival, once having a 39-13 lead and a 43-24 lead at the half. The Panthers never quit fighting, which allowed them to own the second half, erase the huge lead and have a chance to win.
The Dawgs dominated the first half right from the tip. Fueled by defensive pressure and Alex Matthews who put on a show in the first half scoring in a variety of ways including attacking the basket, finishing in transition, and knocking down some deep threes. Matthews when not scoring he was finding open teammates for easy baskets in the halfcourt or out in transition leading to some highlight reel dunks from Trevon Harris. After scoring 22 in the first half Matthews was held to 8 points in the second half finishing with 30 points, 16 rebounds,16 rebounds, 5 assists, & 2 blocks.
Then, the comeback was on it’s way. Coach Haire’s 2nd half adjustments kick-started his team and the monumental comeback. It seemed as if the Dawg’s momentum and the air was taken out of the building.
The comeback was led by junior guard, Jaquis Franklin, and his 25 points (12 coming in the fourth quarter). Other Panther contributors were Khia Sheppard and Myles Fields whom both contributed 15 points apiece with 6 of the 15 in the fourth quarter.
These adjustments on defense caused John Hardin’s offense to become stagnant and commit turnovers and reach in fouls, which led to easy buckets for the Panthers that kept building pressure on the Dawgs. To contribute to the defensive pressure Harris fouled out with over 3 minutes remaining causing Matthews to become the primary ball handler. with his amazing first half, was held in check with 8 points in the second half.
Having played the entire game and no timeouts to give him a breather, it would be safe to say he was gassed. In the end, big players do big things as he sunk both foul shots to make it a two position game 75-70 with 4.4 seconds remaining.
Franklin showed off his entire repertoire and proved he is a top guard in the 2021 class and one of the best in the 5th region. The guard continuously beat his defender off the bounce getting to the lane and bucket with his tight handle, shiftiness, and ability to rise above weak side defenders to knock down contested shots or dropping it off to open teammates.
Matthew’s surpassed the 1500 point mark, the 1000 rebound mark, and the win made it his 115th career win with the Dawgs.
Other contributing Bulldawgs were Senior guard Trevon Harris who added 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals. Big man Preston Murrell had 14 points and 7 rebounds and transfer junior guard Anthony Bowen added 8 points (2 deep triples) and 5 assists.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Dawgs as they go on the road to face a 20-4 Bowling Green team Saturday evening for an 8 PM tip. As for Etown, the Panthers travel to a 5-13 Fort Knox team Friday evening at 6 PM.
Official Scorebook from John Hardin 24-1 vs Etown 18-2 2/4/2020