By Les Dixon
RUPP ARENA – John Hardin dominated on the boards and the scoreboard during its 79-69 win over 16th Region champion Fleming County Thursday.
The Bulldogs had four players score in double figures and outrebounded the Panthers, 45-23, during the game. John Hardin will now advance to today’s quarterfinal action of the 96th Annual Boys Sweet Sixteen and face-off against 10th Region champion Montgomery County, who defeated Warren Central.
Brandon Price led John Hardin with 20 points while teammates Keon Williams (19 points, 12 rebounds), Daveon Green (14 points, seven rebounds) and Ricky Burns (12 points, 11 rebounds) followed.
The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 31-of-68 shooting from the floor and outrebounded the Panthers, 45-23. Mark Wells’ squad also did a good job shooting free throws during the second half, connecting on 13-of-14 attempts while finishing the game with a 17-of-19 effort.
“It was a great game,” Wells said. “I thought Fleming County played well, especially in the second half. I thought we played hard tonight with a lot of intensity. It was a good win for the program.”
Fleming County had trouble scoring in the first quarter and John Hardin took advantage by taking control early and built an 18-10 advantage, as Brandon Price scored eight points during the game’s first eight minutes.
The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 28-13 with 4:49 left in the first half after getting a basket by Ricky Burns, but the Panthers held tough and put together a run that saw them finish the second quarter out with a 7-2 run to make the score 34-24 at the half.
Fleming County connected on only nine-of-25 shot attempts in the first half and was outrebounded, 27-11. John Hardin took advantage of its rebounding edge and took 37 shots during the first half, but only connected on 15 of them.
The Bulldogs began to put even more separation between themselves and the Panthers in the third quarter by scoring the third quarter’s first six points.
Consecutive baskets by Daveon Green and a putback by Ricky Burns gave their team a 42-26 lead at the 5:48 mark. But once again, Fleming County continued to hang around by outscoring the Bulldogs 6-1 during the final four minutes of the period.
Darion Burns’ basket with :00.3 remaining made the score 52-41 with eight minutes to go in the game.
Fleming County got as close as seven points on four different occasions during the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs hit their free throws down the stretch to wrap-up the 10-point win.
Darion Burns led the Panthers with 20 points while teammate Brady Saudners followed with 17. Fleming County finished the game shooting 26-of-54 from the floor, but only two-of-14 from three-point range.
96TH Annual Boys Sweet Sixteen
at Rupp Arena
John Hardin 79, Fleming County 69
Fleming County 10 14 17 28 69
John Hardin 18 16 18 27 79
Fleming County (69) – McAdams 3, Syeward 13, Sauders 17, Burns 20, Crisp 11, McKee 3, Thomas 2.
John Hardin (79) – Burns 12, Greene 14, Price 20, Anderson 8, Williams 19, Smith 4, Jackson 2.