Playing through some setbacks, the Eminence boys’ basketball team dropped its first two games at the Gallatin Steel Invitational over the weekend, and played two more games Monday and Tuesday to close out the four-day stretch in the annual invitational.
The Warriors lost to Gallatin (80-32) Saturday and to Meade County (69-43) Sunday. They then played Ludlow on Monday and closed out the invitational with another opponent on Tuesday — which had not been determined as of Monday afternoon.
Starter Nic Lundsford’s season is questionable following a spleen injury a few weeks ago, starter Brock Roberts is playing through an ankle injury, starter Ed Berry was suffering through a sickness over the weekend and starter Nathan Hazelwood is currently sidelined with an ankle injury he sustained during the Gallatin loss. Chris Nethery, Eminence’s first-year head coach, is trying to move forward despite the setbacks.
“It’s just some bad luck,” said Nethery, whose team dropped to 1-6 heading into this week.
Nethery said he wasn’t pleased with his team’s play against Gallatin but was pleased with his team against a much larger school in Meade. Against Meade, with the exception of the third quarter, Eminence played one of its best games so far this season.
“I was a bit disappointed in our defensive effort against Gallatin, but then we came out against Meade and didn’t have any problems guarding them even though they’re a 6A school and are much bigger than us,” Nethery said. “That’s the frustrating thing with these players. I see that they can do it but they don’t always do it. We have to move towards playing at a 100-percent effort the entire game.”
In the invitational opener against the host school, Eminence trailed 23-7 after the first quarter, 46-15 after the second, 65-22 after the third and took the 48-point loss. It didn’t help that Hazlewood went down with an ankle injury, Berry was playing through an illness and Roberts was making his return after being on crutches the previous week.
Despite the illness, Berry scored a team-high 14 points. Dre Banta scored 10, Bradley Foree scored four, and Roberts and Jordan Fairchild scored two each. Meanwhile, Gallatin had 11 different players score with four in double digits.
“I thought we played like we were intimidated by Gallatin,” Nethery said. “We just came out and laid an egg. I didn’t think Gallatin’s pressure was that great but we still had a hard time breaking it.”
Against Meade the following day, the Warriors played much better but still took a 26-point loss. Eminence was trailing by just six points at the half, 30-24, before Meade pulled away during the third quarter with a 23-6 spurt.
“For most of the season so far we’ve played one to two good quarters but I thought we played three good quarters against Meade,” Nethery said. “That’s the direction we’re looking to push — playing more consistent.”
Meade tried to use a pressure defense but the Eminence players handled it well. And the Warriors, who played a zone defense, contained Meade’s two big men — standing at 6-foot-4 each — for much of the contest.
Banta, a sophomore first-year starter, had his best game of the season with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four steals to keep the game close until Eminence’s third-quarter woes. Also, Berry scored 16 points, Roberts scored five, Fairchild and Trey Lindsey scored four each, and Foree scored two.
After the Warriors’ final two games of the invitational Monday and Tuesday, they will have a break before hosting Covington Latin next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Eminence started its season with a 57-54 win over Kentucky School for the Deaf before dropping six straight.
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