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What a difference a year makes. Last season, Spencer County traveled down to Bardstown and took home the championship of the Nelson County holiday tournament with a senior-laden team. This year, a lineup already thin on experience grew even thinner and it showed in the early round games as the Bears continue to struggle.
The lone returning starter from last year’s squad, sophomore Logan Dunbar, was sitting out three games, meaning most of those taking the floor for the Bears are seeing varsity action for the first time this season.
In the opening game Saturday night against Nelson County, the young Bears looked like they might surprise some people in the early going, as they hung with the host Cardinals early on.
Johnny Thacker, the lone senior for the Bears, drained a three-pointer to give the Bears a lead and sophomore guard Trey Wyatt scored seven points, including converting an old-fashioned three point play in the first quarter to keep the Bears competitive, trailing just 12-10 after the first quarter.
Nelson would score quickly in the second quarter and sophomore Konner Barlow hit a short jumper to keep the Bears within two at 14-12 before the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run over the next four minutes.
Barlow again hit a short jumper to end the run, but Nelson County would continue to pull away, leading 30-17 at the break.
A three pointer by Trey Wyatt early in the second half kept the Bears in contention, but the Cardinals then shut down the Bears offense and led by 18 by the end of the quarter. Spencer County was never able to cut into the lead over the final eight minutes and fell 67-36.
Wyatt led the way with 16 points, with Johnny Thacker and Barlow each adding seven points. Brian Thacker and Josh Sweeney each added two.
In Spencer County’s second game of the tournament, the thin lineup got even thinner when the Thacker brothers didn’t make the trip because of a virus. That pressed even young players into action as the Bears squared off against the athletic John Hardin.
The Bulldogs came out pressing, but the Bears again hung tough for a quarter, trailing by only two at the end of one quarter when freshman Ross Goodwin drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer.
However, the pressure got to the youngsters in the second quarter and John Hardin quickly erased any hopes for a miracle upset, finally pulling away to win 87-38.
Spencer County was scheduled to play Louisville Western on Tuesday and will be back in action Tuesday night as they host Eminence. They’ll be home all next week as well, with back to back boy-girl double-headers on Thursday and Friday, against North Bullitt and an Australian National team.