By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The Patriots were without two of their top scorers for most of the first half Thursday against Garrard County.
Alex Chen and Zack Rice-Gordon each picked up a pair of fouls, sending them to the bench.
With those standouts off the floor, Model Laboratory fell behind early.
The Patriots trailed by 12 points at halftime and never could bounce back, falling at home to the Golden Lions, 62-53.
Sophomore guard Ephriam Otieno had a team-best 20 points and Rice-Gordon added 13 points for Model (9-3).
“They are the only real post presences we have,” Model coach Wes Scarberry said of Rice-Gordon and Chen. “That’s 16 points (a game) and 10 points (a game) that had to sit. We tried to keep it close. It was only 12 points at half and I’m kind of OK with that knowing we were in foul trouble and we hadn’t played well. Against a good team like Garrard County, you dig yourself a hole like that, its hard to dig yourself out.”
Without their big men on the court for long stretches, Model relied mostly on a zone defense. Garrard County took advantage, hitting five three-pointers in the first half and connecting four more times from long range in the second half.
The Golden Lions got almost all their offensive production from three players — Slade Crutchfield, Nick McCullom and Austin Sebastian. They combined to hit all over Garrard County’s three-pointers and scored a total of 56 points.
Sebastian had three three-pointers and a game-best 23 points.
“We had three guys that we wanted to key on,” Scarberry said. “Our scouting report was dead on. We just didn’t play well defensively.”
Otieno had eight points at halftime, but really sparked a Model comeback in the second half.
After Garrard County got a three-pointer from Sebastian to push its lead to a game-high 15 points early in the third quarter, the Patriots put together a 12-3 run.
Model got within six points several times, including on a dunk by Rice-Gordon late in the third quarter.
Otieno had eight points in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots’ rally came up short.
“I think we just used too much energy in the third quarter to get back into it,” Scarberry said.
Model was just 8-of-19 at the free throw line, including a 1-of-7 effort by Otieno. The Patriots were also just five-of-18 from three-point range.
Keith Mason and Jared Adams had six points each, while Caleb Kincaid and Chen had four points each.
Model is set to return to action Saturday at home against Bracken County.