By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Monday made it four trips to the championship game for Wyan-Pine in the five years since elementary basketball returned to Laurel County. If you include the Wyan-Pine girls’ team, the Comets had a total of five runner-up finishes.
After wrapping up a perfect season with a 39-27 win over Cold Hill, Wyan-Pine coach Kris Huff was presented with a lovely bridal sash. The Comets are no longer the brides maid.
“I knew we had a lot of athletes. It was just if they could come together and play as a team,” Huff said.
Although they controlled the championship game, there were close calls among their 14 wins. Johnson took the Comets to overtime in the tournament semifinals. They also pulled out an overtime win against Cold Hill during the regular season and beat Bush by one point. Huff thought a deep bench played a role in pulling out the close games.
“I always like to play everybody. Everybody has played in every game all year. We want them all to feel like they are a team,” Huff said.
The Comets also showed the ability to make the right decision in tough situations.
“It’s not just about being active, you’ve got to have a brain and use your brain at critical times. You have to see what is happening,” Huff said.
The Comets never trailed Monday, but had a hard time putting away a determined Cold Hill team. The game’s only tie was at 2-2. The tie was broken with a three-pointer by Josh Hibbitts. Cold Hill pulled back within a point on a strong inside move by Kellen Bundy. Wyan-Pine pulled led 9-4 by the end of the quarter, but could have led by more had a couple more shots fallen.
“Lord we missed the layups,” Huff said. “Our mantra is, ‘Can you just make a layup.’”
Even when the shots were not falling, the Comets could count on their defense. They held Cold Hill scoreless for almost four minutes in the second quarter to pull ahead 19-6. They would lead 21-10 at the half.
“Every practice we did a ton of defense. Defense was big for us,” Huff said.
Cold Hill did seem to grab some momentum late in the third quarter on baskets by Bundy and Wes Wright to trim the lead to 31-21. Reed Marcum hit a baseline jumper to close out the third quarter and start a 6-0 run by the Comets that pushed the lead to 16. The lead peaked at 39-22 on a put back by Bundy.
“I wanted us to play our game, hit our shots, and not fall in behind them. They had three people that we talked about that we were going to make sure did not get their shots and did not get their positions. We didn’t stop them every time, but we did stop them quite a bit,” Huff said.
Josh Hibbitts led the Comets with 11 points. Reed Marcum and William Gibbs added eight points each. Bundy scored 11 for Cold Hill and Wes Wright 10 points.