Heading into the Christmas Break, the Hopkins County Central Storm has been on the warpath, winning back-to-back-to-back games to move to 5-3 on the season.
The Storm survived a frenetic pace Friday to defeat Russellville, 74-64, in their last home game until Jan. 3.
After building a double-digit lead that swelled to 17 points late in the first period, Central held on as the Panthers turned up the pressure.
Russellville went full court with its defense, harassing the inbound passes and trapping at every opportunity. The pace of the game played into their hands as they chipped away at the margin.
What initially looked like a blowout was cut to a three-point advantage for the Storm, 55-52, when RHS’s Nick Woodard connected on one of two free throws at the 2:38 mark in the third frame.
But Central cut the run short to extend the lead to five, 59-54, at the end of the period en route to the double-digit win.
The Storm ran out to a 23-6 lead on a Namari Hall layup with 1:50 left in the opening quarter. That advantage shrank to 11 points by the end of the frame, 26-15, as the Panthers chipped away.
HCCHS was steady offensively, connecting on 26-of-47 from the field for 55.3%. The Storm was 9-of-23 from the 3-point line for 39.1%.
The Panthers shot half again as many field goals as their hosts with 71 attempts, but were successful on just 23 of those for 32.4%. They hit only three of their 19 attempts from distance for 15.8%.
Drake Skeen led the Storm with a game-high 26 points. He went 7-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-12 from the arc.
Trevahn Jones connected on 8-of-12 from the floor for 20 points and hauled down seven rebounds.
Trevor Weldon added 13 points and six boards, while Devonye Butcher added six points and Reese Belt five.
Hall scored four points but grabbed 10 rebounds for Central.
Woodard led RHS with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Octavius McKeage posted 20 points and eight caroms.
McLean Co. 68
Hopkins Central overcame a halftime deficit, and held McLean County to just seven points in the third period to beat the Cougars on their home court, 72-69, in the two teams’ opener in the Whitaker Country Christmas Tournament Monday.
The contest was the first of two for the Storm on the afternoon, both of which ended with wins for Hopkins County Central.
After HCCHS put together a 20-17 lead at the end of the first period of their first game, the home team reeled off a 26-14 second frame to own a 43-34 advantage at the break.
The Storm defense did its job in the third stanza, though, limiting McLean to just two field goals and three free throws. Central got six points from Drake Skeen, five from Namari Hall, and 3-pointers from Trevor Weldon and Lake Sumner to a 51-50 cushion into the final frame.
Skeen led the Storm with a game-high 22 points, which was shared by MCHS’s Jaxon Floyd.
Jones finished with 16 points while Hall posted 11. Weldon added eight points, followed by Sumner with six. Davonyae Butcher pitched in with five points and Reese Belt with four.
In the second game of the day, the storm had to survive a tough charge by the Bethlehem Eagles of Bardstown, who put up 42 points in the first half of play. They were led by senior forward Casey Steadmon who put up 19 before the break.
Drake Skeen and Trevor Weldon put up eight points each as the Storm jumped out to a 25-19 lead over the Eagles in the first quarter.
But Bethlehem battled back in the second period, outscoring the Storm 23-21 to close the gap to 46-42 as the two teams headed into the locker room.
In the second half the Storm were able to hold Steadmon to just four points but Bethlehem as a team wouldn’t let up. They outscored Hopkins Central 15-14 in the third period to cut the lead to just three points headed into the home stretch.
With Steadmon on ice, the Storm flipped the scrip in the fourth quarter, getting a boost from Skeen who went 5 of 6 from the charity stripe in the last eight minutes and going on to claim the 76-70 win.
Skeen and Jones led the way for the Storm, scoring 18 each in the contest, followed closely by Weldon who put up 16. Hall also go into double digits in the contest, scoring 12. Davonyae Butcher scored seven and Reese Belt sank three free throws to also get on the board.
The Storm will wrap up play in the Whitaker Country tournament today. Game time and opponent were unavailable at press time.
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