UHA Blazers Quiet the Storm for 20th Win

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Give the Hopkins County Central Storm credit. After falling behind big early, it would have been easy for the Storm to pack it in and take their loss back home to Mortons Gap.

But give the University Heights Academy defense even more credit. The Blazer ‘D’ never allowed the Storm offense to crank up its three-point shooting show and make a big run to get all the way back in the game as the Blazers took a 78-68 win on Senior Night in Blazer Gym.

The UHA defense also did a lockdown job on Central’s leading scorer Drake Skeen in the second half of play. After Skeen hit for 13 points, including two made three-pointers, in the first half, the Blazer defense nearly shut him out for the enter second half, allowing Skeen just one made free throw over the final 16 minutes of the game.

Skeen had entered the game averaging over 18 points a game and having made 51 3-pointers on the season.

It was a Skeen 3-pointer that gave the Storm an early 3-2 lead. That was the last time Central would see the lead all night long. Led by a blistering hot start from Gavin Grubbs and Devin Cherry, UHA went on a 12-0 run to go up 14-3. The Blazers held a 25-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Grubbs put on a show for his Senior Night performance in the first eight minutes, scoring 11 points in the quarter. Devin Cherry, who played one of his best games of the season added five more points for the Blazers.

Kyler Baker and Elijah Walton then began to assert themselves down in the paint as the second quarter got rolling. The duo scored six points in the quarter and were big defensive factors down inside as the Blazers ran the lead out to 20 points and appeared to be about ready to chase the Storm out of Blazer Gym.

But Coach Michael Fraliex’s team is nothing if not a tough bunch. Devonyae Butcher and Lake Sumner helped ignite a late-half 11-3 run to trim the lead to 42-30 going into the break.

A Sumner three to open the second half brought the Storm to within double digits for the first time since midway through the first quarter at 42-33. Baker and Walton down inside helped UHA turn back the rally as the Blazers extended the lead back out to as many as 16 points at 59-43.

A late three in the third for Hopkins Central cut the margin to 10 points at 62-52 and left one with the feeling that the Storm was readying for a late-game charge at the Blazers.

That feeling was enhanced when Trevahn Jones knocked down a three to start the final quarter and get the Storm to within seven points at 62-55.

That, however, would be the end of any Hopkins County Central comeback. Elijah Walton, Gavin Grubbs, and Quinton Quarles gave the Blazers a late spark that diffused the Central rally. The lead would grow to as many as 16 points over the final minutes before UHA settled in and took the 10-point win.

Gavin Grubbs led the Blazer effort with 23 points, 16 of them in the first half of play. Kyler Baker finished with 15 points. Elijah Walton and Quinton Quarles also hit double digits with 13 and 11 points respectively.

Devontae Butcher was among a quartet of Storm players in double figures with 15. Drake Skeen chipped in with 14, only one of those coming in the second half. Sylas Gunn finished the night with 13 points.

The Blazers go to 20-6 for the year. They wrap up the regular season Thursday night with a home game against Owensboro Catholic.

HCCHS  —  10   20   22   16  –  68
UHA       —  25   17   20   16  –  78

Hopkins County Central – Butcher 15, Skeen 14, Gunn 12, Sumner 11, Jones 8, Dunlap 5, Stephens 2, Craig 1

University Heights – Grubbs 23, Baker 15, Walton 13, Quarles 11, Cherry 9, Pollard 4, Hauret 3

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