Playing against his old team, Chance Moore came up big for the Fern Creek High School boys basketball team in the second half.
The 6-foot-6 senior scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half as the Tigers, the No. 6 team in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, knocked off Eastern 58-44 in Friday’s opening quarterfinal of the Republic Bank Boys Louisville Invitational Tournament at Valley.
Moore drew two quick fouls five seconds apart midway through the first quarter, forcing him to sit for more than half of the opening 16 minutes. The senior claimed it had less to do with nerves than just careless play that got him in early foul trouble. But the team’s leading scorer and rebounder got some encouraging words from his coaches and teammates at halftime.
“They just told me to keep my composure and do what I’ve been doing all year,” Moore said.
Fern Creek (16-2) never trailed and came out strong early, leading 19-4 with 5:24 left in the first half thanks to the Eagles committing 10 turnovers in the game’s first 10 minutes.
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Fern Creek coach James Schooler credited Moore’s defense with helping set the tone throughout the game. He said he talked with his star player coming into what the coach called an emotional game, urging him to focus on defense and rebounding.
“Subsequently, you do those little things, you get to score a little bit, too,” Schooler said.
Eastern (10-7) eventually started taking care of the basketball and climbed back into the game. Caleb Williams hit a layup with 1:47 left in the third quarter to pull within 36-31. However, Moore responded by scoring the next two baskets just 17 seconds apart to make it a nine-point game and the Eagles never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“They’re just unbelievably talented,” Eastern coach David Henley said. “I’ve seen Trinity, Fern Creek and all the top 10 teams in the state and those are by far the two most talented teams in the state.”
Clint Wickliffe came off the bench to lead Fern Creek, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the first half. Williams finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles.
FERN CREEK 58, EASTERN 44
Eastern (10-7) – Sugar Ray Wyche 12p, Isaiah Ross 3p, Braxton Johnson 1p, Myles Goodrich 2p, Kahill Garmon 2p, Caleb Williams 16p 10r, Javen Rushin 8p.
Fern Creek (16-2) – A.J. Thomas 3p 4a, Anthony Wales 7p 6r, Ahmad Price 7p 3s, Clint Wickliffe 20p Kyree Hawkins 2p, Chance Moore 17p, Jaylen Gordon 2p.