After a 61-41 win in the opening round of the inaugural 2nd Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament, Lyon County simply ran into KyKY Tandy.
Lyon County (12-7) came in as the third best team in Region 2 with four straight wins, but the near overwhelming regional favorite in University Heights Academy (16-3) avenged a recent loss to Mayfield with a 86-63 All ‘A’ Classic semifinal win on Friday night at Dawson Springs. under head coach Grant Shouse.
But the final score wasn’t entirely indicative of just how close it was early.
An Xavior commit, Tandy led University Heights Academy on Friday with an explosive performance, and scored 26 of his game-high 30 points in the first half with two rim rocking dunks.
Still, it was one of the most spirited first quarter performances the Lyons ever given in the All A semis, one that they had the lead for for a considerable amount of time.
“First of all, we’re really really proud of them,” Lyon County head coach Jeff Embrey said. “We wanted to come out and play and we wanted to play with them. It was a test of res to see where we stood. What a great first half it was for us offensively, it was as well as we have played here in my 12 years.”
Riding just one senior in the starting five, the young Lyons went up against the No. 3 team in the state, and got 24 points from seventh-grade sensation Travis Perry. Gabe Board finished with 14 points for the Lyons, Kade Blackburn added nine on three three-pointers and Jackson Shoulders chipped in seven.
UHA made just 12 of their 23 free throws, and Lyon County made 14 of 19 total attempts as they held Tandy to just four points in the second half.
UHA sophomore guard William Bryan was also an x-factor in a starting role with the absence of KJ Crump, scoring all 12 of his points from inside the paint. Taquan Hollowell scored 10 of his 15 in the second half to help put the game away late, and University Heights would go on to win their 24th All A Tournament crown in the 30 years they’ve been a part of it.
Tandy opened with a triple less than five seconds in, and followed with another for six points in the first minute. The teams combined for 22 points in the first two and a half minutes, as Perry kept Lyon County more than alive in front of a ruckus environment inside a capacity filled gym in Dawson Springs.
A Blackburn corner triple put Lyon County up 17-14 midway through one, but Tandy’s third tripe of the quarter regained the lead for UHA, and despite the Blazers 25-21 lead after the first quarter, nothing was taken away from the heart that Lyon County showed in those first eight minutes.
“We did a lot of really good things,” Embrey added. “Tandy’s quickness ended up being something we just could not handle, he is jus too much when he got into the paint. Our post players just weren’t quick enough to stay in front of him inside and he caused so much trouble.”
“I was proud of the second half. Offensively, I don’t know if we just wore down physically just trying to keep up with them, but our shots quit falling in the third quarter and that’s kind of when we fell behind. Again, we fought and we fought to the end. Our kids probably gained a lot of respect from the area after this.”
The seeming turning point, came early in the second quarter. Tandy got loose for a breakaway tomahawk jam, followed by a steal to an acrobatic layup to notch the lead to double digits at 36-25. Howell had a cutting corner three-pointer to up the 15-4 run, but Blackburn answered with his second three to trim it back to 12 midway through two.
Gabe Board sliced it to six at 42-36 but Lyon County’s strong interior defense couldn’t hold back what was coming next; a 20-0 UHA run to put it away for good.
Tandy’s second right-handed tomahawk dunk of the half in the open field sent UHA up 48-38 into the half.
Back to back steals from Tandy started the second half to send the Blazers up by 16, and though the Lyons would get within three possessions in the third quarter, that 20-0 University Heights run proved the difference.
Gabe Board went down with a scary right knee injury with 3:14 remaining in the third and would not return after contact with Hollowell off the no-call, the same knee that has given Board trouble before.
Perry and Blackburn knocked down a pair of triples to trim the 21-point deficit back to 15, but Drew McGowan picked up five points in five seconds to take a 25 lead at at 73-48 headed to the fourth.
Hollowell helped close out the contest in the second half for the Blazers as Tandy sat most of the period. UHA would lead by as many as 29 the rest of the way.
Lyon County now begins a five-game road trip starting at Livingston Central, with an anticipated double-header with crosstown rival Caldwell County coming Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.