By Steve LeMaster
HYDEN – McCreary Central fell short in its opening round game in the Hyden Citizens Bank Classic at Leslie County High School’s Richard M. Nixon Center as Hazard prevailed 75-72 in overtime on Thursday, Dec. 28.
Hazard shot 50.9 percent (27-of-53) from the field. The Bulldogs were 4-of-20 (20 percent) from 3-point range.
Hazard shot 50 percent (17-of-34) from the free throw line.
Excelling inside, Hazard outrebounded the Raiders 38-21.
Hazard turned in a balanced offensive performance against McCreary Central in the opening round matchup.
Mason Collins paced Hazard with 18 points. Collins flirted with a double-double, pulling down nine rebounds.
Accompanying Collins in double figures for the Bulldogs, Chase Pennington scored 14 points and Reece Fletcher contributed 11 points. Fletcher, fresh off a solid football season, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Kyle Johnson netted nine points while Dylan Combs and Jacob Johnson chipped in eight points apiece and Wade Pelphrey provided seven points for former All-A State Champion Hazard.
McCreary Central also shot 50.9 percent (28-of-55) from the field. The Raiders were 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) from 3-point range,.
McCreary Central shot 60 percent (6-of-10) from the free throw line.
Derrick Paige poured in a game-high 33 points and grabbed a team-best seven rebounds to lead McCreary Central. Paige, one of the most underrated boys’ basketball players in the 12th Region, hit 15 two -point field goals for the Raiders.
John Cash accompanied Paige in double figures for McCreary Central, scoring 18 points.
McCreary Central featured five different scorers with Devin Strunk chipped in eight points, Nick Longmire contributing seven points and Hunter Jones tossing in six points.
The Raiders and Bulldogs have numerous common opponents but aren’t scheduled to meet again this season.