Earlier this season, Model was struggling at the free-throw line.

Last week, in a 60-57 win over Monticello, the Patriots only made 16-of-34 free throws.

However, after much refocusing, Model hit 24-of-28 free-throws, including 18-of-20 in the second half, to stave off a late Berea Community rally and top their cross-county rivals, 64-55, Thursday in the first round of the Berea Invitational Tournament.

“That’s why we won tonight,” Model coach Wes Scarberry said. “That’s the difference between tonight and other games — we made our free throws when we had to. We made them when we had to in the fourth quarter.”

Also in Thursday’s tournament action, Madison Southern topped Jackson County, 74-52.

Model (3-1) took control of the game when Berea’s leading scorer, Nate Arvin, fouled out with four minutes left in the game.

“I saw him coming out of the locker room and I was a little bit worried,” Scarberry said of the 6-foot-5 Arvin. “He was able to get some good looks underneath. I thought we did a good job of making him shoot over us. When he fouled out, that kind of sealed the deal for us. We were able to rebound more with him out.”

The Pirates (2-2) struggled early and often, but closed the gap to 54-45 off a Ben Miller three-pointer with five minutes left. However, they would never get closer than 10 points again.

“There wasn’t a sense of urgency that we needed to beat them,” Berea coach Bill Smallwood said. “They shot well and we didn’t. We’ve been battling things all week, like the flu, and Wednesday was the first day we had had everyone here all week. We just couldn’t execute.”

Model jumped out to a 12-4 lead off back-to-back three-pointers by Dennis Smith and A.J. Hammons. but Model held a 21-18 lead after the first quarter.

Berea quickly took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter, then the Patriots exploded on a 13-2 run and would never trail again.

“We shot well at the beginning to get up,” Scarberry said. “We got lazy on defense and they took a lead. We switched to a mash-up zone defense that we had never run before to shut down their inside game and force them to shoot outside. They were a little off tonight. We definitely wanted to win.”

Arvin led all scorers with 18 points and six boards. Jeremy Hamilton scored 12 and Luke Ambrose added 10 for the Pirates, who will face Monticello at 6 p.m. tonight at Berea.

Smith led the Patriots with 16 points, Hammons added 14 and Matt Witt chipped in six for Model. The Patriots will face Estill County tonight in the Berea Invitational. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

Southern rolls past Jackson County

Led by Aaron Ponder’s 22-point performance, Madison Southern picked up an easy, 74-52 win over Jackson County Thursday in the Berea Invitational Tournament.

Southern led 26-6 after the first quarter, led by Ponder with 14 points, and was up 38-19 at half.

Carrington Roberts added 15 points for the Eagles (3-1), Joey Wallace scored nine, Phillip Acres and A.J. Jeck both added six, Rico Brown and Brandon McGuire scored five and Chad Wheaton added four for Southern.

The Eagles will return to action in the Berea Invitational at 7:30 p.m. today against Lynn Camp.

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