Oldham County boys’ basketball coach Coy Zerhusen knows that if his team is going to have postseason success, it will have to win games like it did Tuesday night.
The Colonels built a 14-point first-half lead against host DeSales, but then saw all of it disappear. Oldham County, though, rallied late to beat the Colts 77-73 for its 12th win in a row.
“This game is a lot like a district or regional tournament game where you go on a great run, then they counter with a great run and it’s back and forth (from there),” said Zerhusen, whose team is ranked No. 11 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. “Then it’s who can keep their head and who can withstand those runs and just keep playing basketball.
“We’ve got some guys who have been in some big games, last year and then even this year throughout the season, so I’m hoping that we’re building that toughness and we’re building that confidence when the game comes down to it.”
Junior point guard Jackson Gibson scored 17 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to pace four in double figures for the Colonels (22-4).
“It shows we can fight ’til the end of games, we’ve been closing out really strong,” Gibson said of Tuesday’s win. “I just hope to make a good run at tournament time.”
Gibson had 35 points in Oldham County’s 73-58 victory over DeSales on Dec. 21.
The rematch looked like it might have a similar outcome as Oldham County built a 21-8 first-quarter lead behind eight forced turnovers in the first eight minutes. The Colonels’ lead grew to 14 in the second period before the Colts cut it to 36-25 by halftime.
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DeSales, however, stormed back in the third quarter led by Jaxon Burgess. The senior guard scored half of his game-high 26 points in the third, when the Colts outscored Oldham County 26-13 to take a 51-49 lead.
DeSales’ lead grew to 62-55 in the fourth quarter before the Colonels reeled off 13 straight points sparked by Gibson and sophomore reserve Christian Harper, who scored all seven of his points in the final 5:29. Andre Brewer’s steal and layup gave Oldham County the lead for good, at 64-62, with 4:55 to play.
The Colts had the ball down three late, but the Colonels stole an in-bounds pass with 7 seconds to play, then Zach Larimore hit 1 of 2 free throws to seal the win.
“We did a lot better against their pressure defense in the second half,” DeSales coach Tom Crews said. “In the first half we turned it over [11 times] and struggled to get in our offense.
“I was happy with our guys to come back and get the lead on a good team late. We just did not make the plays the last three or four minutes of the game.”
Sam Weining added 21 points for the Colts (14-9), who shot 59 percent from the field (which Oldham County also did).
OLDHAM COUNTY 77, DeSALES 73
Oldham County (22-4) – Ryan Heelan 2p; Ismail Jones 8p; Jackson Gibson 17p; Travis Henderson 12p; Zach Larimore 14p; Andre Brewer 11p; Caleb Strunk 4p; Cameron Covany 2p; Christian Harper 7p.
DeSales (14-9) – Austin Black 13p; Jaxon Burgess 26p, 7stl; Sam Weining 21p; Dalton Kelly 3p; Jack Michels 4p; Luke Askin 6p.