By T.J. Morgan
Last week on Monday night the Hornets and Lady Hornets hosted the Cumberland County Panthers and Lady Panthers in the first round of the 16th district tournament. 24 hours prior, both Cumberland County boys and girls had defeated the Russell County Lakers and Lady Lakers in convincing fashion, never trailing in either game. Metcalfe and Cumberland County fans came out in droves and packed Metcalfe County High School for the district matchup.
The Lady Hornets jumped out to an early lead against the Lady Panthers and never took their foot off the accelerator. Rallying behind Kassady London’s 21 points, Metcalfe defeated Cumberland 58-39. The first-round win set the Lady Hornets up for a 16th district championship matchup against the Clinton County Lady Bulldogs, who defeated Monroe County in an OT thriller Tuesday night, 48-45.
In Monday’s nightcap, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead over Metcalfe, but the Hornets would take the lead halfway through the first quarter and never relinquish it. Being led by Wyatt Blythe’s 17 and Jax Allen’s 13 points, the Hornets would take the first-round matchup 62-50. The victory placed the Hornets into a 16th district championship matchup against Monroe County, who defeated Clinton County Tuesday night, 65-54.
Thursday night the Lady Hornets attempted to capture the first three-peat in program history, as well as the first district championship in front of a Metcalfe County home crowd. The Metcalfe faithful did not disappoint, turning the gym into a sea of maroon. The Lady Bulldogs went toe to toe with the Lady Hornets for the better part of two quarters. However, with the score 22-22 and 2:12 remaining in the first half the Lady Hornets would go on a 10-0 run to finish the half. Behind a trio of Bree Jolly’s 17 points, Kassady London’s 10, and Jozie Allen’s 10-point/10 rebound double-double, Metcalfe would extend their lead in the second half, defeating Clinton County 54-34. As reward, awaiting the Lady Hornets is a 7:30 PM late game Monday night against 13th district runner-up, Logan County (18-13). In addition to their district championship trophy, the Lady Hornet starters, Kassady London, Bree Jolly, Anna Grace Blythe, Aubrey Jolly, and Jozie Allen, all received all-district team recognition.
The Lady Hornets aren’t just 16th district champions, they are 4th region contenders. Yet, their road will be a difficult one, drawing the only district runner-up with a winning record, Logan County, if only to advance to play the winner of Glasgow and 4th region powerhouse, Bowling Green. Metcalfe head coach, Heidi Coleman, has the Lady Hornets playing their best ball of the year at the right time, taking the 16th district tournament with ease. Lady Hornet fans should expect this young group of girls to go toe to toe with any team in the region, powerhouse or not.
Friday night the Hornets would hope to carry over all the momentum from the week into the boys’ final, trying to sweep the boys and girls championships for only the third time in program history (1997 and 2021). Just like the night prior, Hornet nation showed up in mass. With Falcon fans filling the visitor side of Metcalfe County High School Gymnasium, it was a capacity crowd and the atmosphere was everything one would expect in a highly contested 16th district championship game, each crowd living and dying with every made basket. Jax Allen scored 13 in the first quarter, pushing the Hornets out to an early 23-10 lead. The Hornets would hold a steady lead through the second and third quarters, entering the fourth quarter up 56-39. The Falcons would make a fourth-quarter rally, but it seemed senior Logan Phelps would swing the momentum back for Metcalfe after each run with a three-ball. Behind Logan Phelps’s 15 points and Jax Allen’s dominating 26-point, 15-rebound performance; it was the Hornets who would finish Friday night cutting down the nets in front of their home crowd, defeating Monroe County 71-66. Hornets Wyatt Blythe, Jax Allen, Hudson Jessie, Logan Phelps, and CT Branstetter would all receive all-district recognition.
The Hornets will now enter a gauntlet, as the 4th region tournament is riddled with tough competition from top to bottom. Metcalfe will begin their region trip Tuesday/Wednesday night against district runner-up Barren County. With two of the top players in the region, Jax Allen and Wyatt Blythe, the Hornets have the momentum to compete with the region’s best. Along with the Lady Hornets, the Hornets will look to add on postseason wins at the mecca of 4th region basketball, E.A. Diddle Arena.