It’s been a wild week for the Owensboro Catholic Aces as they started their week with their eye on All “A” Classic State Championship, but then those hopes were dashed — until they weren’t.
Catholic found out Thursday the All “A” was back on, but before the Aces take on Clinton County on Tuesday, they were pushed to the brink by Henderson County in a tight contest at the Owensboro Sportscenter in the finale of the Independence Bank Classic.
Ace junior Brian Griffith dropped a game-high 32 points as Catholic outscored the Colonels by 12 in the second half to take the game 54-48.
Catholic coach Tim Riley said he hopes his team gets something from their first-half woes.
“What was really good is we played poorly in the first half, which kind of woke us up,” he said. “We kind of needed that. We needed to be smacked in the face. Gotta grow up. Getting smacked like that was good for us. We’re going to play a team very similar to that so it was a good game for us.”
Henderson County held Catholic to just four points in the second quarter as they took a 21-14 lead into the break.
Griffith scored 12 points in the first half as the only other Ace points came from a jumper by Sam McFarland in the first quarter.
Catholic started the second on a run and for Riley; that’s when the game turned.
“I really thought the comeback was in the third,” he said. “We were down seven at the half, 21-14, then we scored six-straight points to start it off, and I thought that was it. One of the big things is we got to the foul line. We hadn’t got to the foul line before that.”
The Colonels led 31-29 heading to the fourth as Catholic went on another run to start the fourth and then never looked back.
The Aces iced the game at the charity stripe as they went 16-of-24 from the line.
Griffith went 8-of-11 from the line in the game, including 6-of-7 in the fourth quarter. Riley said his junior guard had a heck of a night.
“He’s just a really good little player,” he said. “He was really good tonight. He wanted to win and he scored because we needed him to but also made some great passes that one to Ji with that and-one. Just an incredible pass, driving and threw it off with his left hand. Just a tremendous player, no doubt.”
The Aces now set their sites on Clinton County as they take on the Bulldogs Tuesday in the first round of the All “A” Classic State Tournament as the tourney is using sectionals before the final four hit Richmond to determine a champion.
Riley knows the importance of the tournament and said he’s glad it gives his team more time on the court.
“I just wanted the kids to have an opportunity to play in that tournament and compete for a championship,” he said. “We’re happy about that. We know that we’ve got to compete, battle. It’s going to be a tough road. I’ve taken a team to the finals of the All ‘A’ and it’s a fatiguing deal. We’ll try to win at Clinton, then come back here for the next game and see what we can do.”
Owensboro Catholic 54, Henderson County 48
HC (6-8) 10 11 10 17–48
OC (12-3) 10 4 15 25–54
HC: Eli Wilkes 15, Noah Curry 8, Gerard Thomas 12, Xavier Bugg 9, Brayden Lyons 3, Koby Reed 1
OC: Brian Griffith 32, Gray Weaver 7, Luke Scales 1, Ji Webb 10, Sam McFarland 4