Register Sports Editor
Model coach Wes Scarberry scheduled a late-season showdown with one of the best teams in the 11th Region for a specific reason.
He wanted to see if his experienced, senior-laiden team was really ready for a deep postseason run.
“They convinced me tonight that they can really compete in the 11th Region Tournament, if we are fortunate enough to get there,” Scarberry said. “I wasn’t convinced of that until tonight.”
The Patriots came up short, falling to Bryan Station, 73-68, Wednesday in Richmond, but they still earned a ton of respect from their coach. Model had a 37-33 lead at halftime and stretched that advantage to seven points in the third quarter.
Jon Ballard had a team-best 17 points and nine rebounds, A.J. Hammons had 16 points, while Anthony Gerald and Brendan Hill each had 13 points.
Model (18-6) had a chance to tie the game later, but Ballard was unable to get off a three-pointer with five seconds left in the game.
“We played well,” Scarberry said. “I thought we did enough to win. We knew they were going to make a run and they did. They made shots. They knocked down shots when they needed to.”
Model shot 55 percent from the floor for the game, but 11 second-half turnovers really had an impact. Bryan Station (14-8) scored 17 points off turnovers.
Station got 19 points from Jordan Henry and 18 points from Larry Morton while shooting only 41 percent. The Defender hit seven three-pointers, five in the first half.
“Bryan Station is considered one of the top two or three teams in the 11th Region,” Scarberry said. “They’ve had wins over Scott County and Henry Clay. They’ve had some big wins.”
Model has had several signature wins this season. The Patriots have eight wins over 11th Region competition, including victories over Woodford County, Madison Southern and Lexington Christian Academy.
Last week, Model advanced to the All “A” Classic State Tournament for the first time and defeated University Heights in the opening round.
The Patriots lost in the All “A” quarterfinals Friday to Bardstown and then fell the following day to Augusta in the Bluegrass Conference Shootout.
After a couple of days off, Model looked recharged and re-energized against Bryan Station.
“They were ready to go,” Scarberry said. “We had a long week last week. It was emotional (playing in the All “A” Tournament). We had two great days of practice. They really kind of got refocused.”
Gerald gave Model a 44-37 lead with a three-pointer in the third quarter. Station rallied to take a one-point lead (53-52) heading into the fourth quarter.
The Patriots never re-gained the lead, but hung around until the end. After Henry missed two free throws with 12.4 seconds left, Model trailed just 71-68. Ballard brought the ball up the court and tried to put up a three pointer, but lost control as he went up for the shot.
“I had a timeout and in hindsight I would have called it and set up a play,” Scarberry said. “But, its kind of my philosophy that you will get a better shot in transition. With a team of seniors like ours, they know what to do. Jon had the hot hand. It just didn’t happen for us.”
Jesse Middleton added five points for Model, while Zack Rice-Gordon had 10 rebounds and four points.
Model is set to return to action Saturday at Garrard County.