Inclement weather canceled this week’s All “A” Classic State Tournament, but the Lyon County boys basketball team was still able to fit in a game at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena in Richmond on Tuesday evening. Facing Walton-Verona, the Lyons led by 11 at halftime before ultimately falling 74-70.
“We played pretty good basketball in the first half. We had an 11-point lead at halftime, and everything was in pretty good control,” Lyon head coach Ryan Perry said. “But our rotations weren’t great on defense in the second half, and they made a bunch of 3-pointers, and we weren’t able to match those shots. It was a tale of two halves — we played pretty good in the first half and pretty poorly in the second half.”
The Lyons (14-2) trailed 15-14 at the end of the first quarter before a strong second period sent them into halftime leading 39-28.
“Our defense was good. We had them kind of stifled on defense, and we were getting some run-outs and got behind their defense because we were turning them over a little bit,” Perry said. “We scored 25 points in the second quarter, so that was a good quarter for us.”
The Bearcats (11-5) fought back in the second half, however, as they pulled within one, 49-48, going into the fourth quarter en route to the four-point victory.
“I didn’t know much about that team because we hadn’t scouted them at all. We just found out today that we were playing those guys, so we hadn’t gotten to see any film on them at all,” Perry said. “But we had an idea of a couple of their guys who were their main guys. We let one of those guys get 21 (points) on us tonight, which is pretty disappointing. He made five 3-pointers, and we knew he was one of their guys, so that tells us that we didn’t execute down the stretch. It was a tough loss for our guys.”
It was the second straight loss for the Lyons after starting the season 14-0.
“This was a game we were heavily in all the way through, and I feel like it’s a game we should’ve closed the door on, and we just didn’t do it. We have to close out games better and put them out of reach when we have a chance to put it out of reach,” Perry said. “But Walton-Verona is a good basketball team. They have a lot of guys that can really shoot the basketball, and we knew that. That ended up breaking our back because they shot us out of the game in the second half.”
Freshman Travis Perry led the Lyons in scoring with 22 points. Junior Jackson Shoulders added 19 points to go with 10 from freshman Brady Shoulders.
Though it was played at McBrayer Arena, Tuesday’s game was not considered part of the All “A” Tournament, which had already been declared canceled earlier in the day. As Second Region champions, the Lyons had qualified for the state tournament and made the nearly 250-mile trip to Richmond on Monday despite the winter storm and resulting poor road conditions.
“We got a call yesterday (Monday) morning saying that the tournament was going to be played and that if we were going, we needed to leave by noon,” Perry said. “So I started texting our team and telling coaches and players that we needed to get our stuff packed.”
The Lyons departed the school a little after noon and spent over six hours on the road for what should be a four-hour trip under normal conditions with clear roadways.
“We caravanned a bunch of cars together for safety, and we finally got there late last night (Monday),” Perry said. “It was a pretty dicey trip. The roads weren’t good. There was freezing rain, and we made lots of stops. It was white-knuckle driving. But we made it.”
A little after 9 a.m. Tuesday, Perry received an email stating that the All “A” Tournament games would be played as scheduled.
“We were pretty excited about that,” he said.
But about two hours later, he got a phone call from the school principal telling him that the tournament had been canceled.
“They wanted to know if we wanted to play a game, and of course, we said, ‘Yes.’ So that’s how we ended up with the game against Walton-Verona at the last minute,” Perry said.
In addition to Lyon County and Walton-Verona, four other teams also made the early trip to Richmond, and they were each guaranteed one game before returning home. These games were considered KHSAA-sanctioned regular-season events that were not affiliated with the All “A” Tournament.
Lyon County was initially scheduled to face Kentucky Country Day (5-7) to open tournament play on Wednesday. With that game called off, the Lyons agreed to play at Kentucky Country Day on Wednesday afternoon in a regular-season game.
“On our way back (to Lyon County) tomorrow (Wednesday), we’re going to go through Louisville and play Kentucky Country Day in their home gym,” Perry said.