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Pair of 1st-evers
Using drama, HVA boys win program’s first playoff game

Sherrius Smith’s first-half points rampage — supported by key second-half points from senior guard V. J. Brown, sophomore reserve post Jalen Carter and junior back-up point guard Jonathan Franklin — set the stage for Zak Carter.

Zak Carter, Hardin Valley Academy freshman post, sank a driving five-foot jumper with just 4.8 seconds to play lifting No. 9 seed HVA (9-19) to the program’s first-ever post-season tournament win.

The Hawks pulled out a 73-72 victory against No. 6-seed Campbell County (11-16) Monday, Feb. 14, in first-round District 3-AAA tourney action at Karns High School.

“I felt like I had a mismatch and an opportunity to make a play,” said Zak, who drove from the free throw line “elbow” down the right side of the lane before pulling up for his winning jumper. The freshman ended with 10 points.

Behind 20 first-half points from Smith, a junior guard benefitting from HVA’s up-tempo style for numerous driving scores plus a pair of three-point baskets, the Hawks pushed a 27-21 lead after one quarter to 45-35 at halftime.

“I was just taking it to the bucket and making easy shots,” Smith said.

Keith Galloway, HVA head coach, said Smith “was just attacking” in the first half, adding the senior “sometimes doesn’t realize what he’s capable of.”

Despite a Cougars third-quarter rally to go ahead 50-49, the Hawks got three inside baskets from Jalen Carter (10 points overall) and five of Franklin’s 11 second-half points in the that quarter. The issue was tied 59-59 after three frames.

“Those two guys have worked hard for us all year,” Galloway said.

Brown delivered six of his 12 points during the final eight minutes, as the lead swayed back and forth.

Trailing 70-67 with 2:40 to play, the Hawks rallied starting with Smith finding Brown for a lay-up at the 2:20 mark.

After a CCHS turnover — a bad pass while trying to run the clock down — Franklin’s driving lay-up with 55 seconds left put Hardin Valley up 71-70.

Campbell County answered with big-man Nick Litton (17 points) scoring under the hoop with 32 seconds remaining.

Cougar guard Lucas Nelson led all scorers with 21 points.


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