Between a COVID quarantine and the wintry weather, Trigg County had not set foot on a varsity basketball court in nearly a month. When the Wildcats traveled to Paducah for a Saturday afternoon contest with St. Mary, they needed a full half to take control and overcome a six-point halftime deficit.
Jhaden Vaughn led the visitors with 14 points, and De Von Ladd and Daeyontae Thompson each added 13 points as Trigg emerged with the 54-50 victory. Even though his team had not been together much lately, Wildcats coach Chad Burgett liked what his squad put together.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Burgett said afterwards. “Our record’s 4-5 but it could easily be 7-2. I got a lot of respect for St. Mary and the way those kids battled. This game shows our mental toughness against such a physical ball club.”
Ladd got Trigg going quickly by drawing a foul on the first basket of the game, then making the free throw for the 3-point play. With another basket plus a 3-pointer from the right-center of the arc midway through the period, Ladd led the Wildcat offense in the opening quarter with eight points. The Vikings kept it close with Parker MacCauley providing half their offense with six points, as Trigg led 14-12 after the opening frame.
The second quarter featured three momentum swings that eventually favored St. Mary. Michael Lurtz and Cade Fleming both made their free throws to open it, and Lurtz nailed a 3-point basket. When MacCauley hit a running layup with 5:44 left in the half, the Vikings were up 21-14 and Trigg had to call timeout.
After the Wildcats regrouped, they turned to Vaughn and Thompson. They each hit a 3-pointer as part of a 10-0 run that reclaimed the lead at 24-21. Just as suddenly, St. Mary closed the half with nine unanswered points. MacCauley hit his first from the arc, while Bryce Haas provided some scoring power underneath for the 30-24 Viking halftime edge.
“We’re usually a press-and-pressure team,” Burgett said of his team’s early performance. “We didn’t have our legs, so we had to do a little more half-court and zone. They (St. Mary) missed some shots they normally make. I thought our zone helped a little bit.”
The Vikings did find one way to keep Jhaden Vaughn in check; put him on the foul line. He made one basket in the third quarter but missed each of his four free throw tries. Fortunately for the Wildcats, they had an extra Vaughn to pick up the slack, as Khyran Vaughn poured in six points along with 3-pointers from Ladd and Thompson to complete the comeback as Trigg trailed 40-38 entering the fourth.
St. Mary tried to slow things down in the final frame, but that just left the Vikings with fewer shooting opportunities. MacCauley’s second 3-pointer was the only field goal for the hosts in the fourth along with 7-for-9 showing at the charity stripe. Trigg increased the tempo in short bursts with Thompson collecting three baskets and a free throw for his most productive quarter. Jhaden Vaughn snapped out of his swoon in the third with another five points, including his second three.
MacCauley led all scorers with 21 points, followed on the Viking roster by Haas with 12 and Lurtz with 11. Khyran Vaughn also reached double-digits for Trigg with 10 points.
Trigg County 14 10 14 16 — 54
St. Mary 12 18 10 10 — 50
TRIGG — J. Vaughn 14, Ladd 13, Thompson 13, K. Vaughn 10, Adams 4.
Field goals: 21. 3-pointers: 6 (Ladd 2, Thompson 2, J. Vaughn 2). Free throws: 6/11. Fouls: 18. Record: 5-5.
ST. MARY — MacCauley 21, Haas 12, Lurtz 11, Bey 2, Fleming 2, Willett 2.
Field goals: 16. 3-pointers: 3 (MacCauley 2, Lurtz). Free throws: 15/20. Fouls: 11. Record: 5-10.