Rebels drop (11) Southwestern, beat Woodford County

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By Quincy Burt

The Casey County Rebels made a late run last year with key wins down the stretch and a historic District Tourney showing.
After some bumps, well, maybe a few more than some, coach Jason Price seems to have his guys peeking at just the right time as they have reeled off three straight including a statement 80-77 win at (11) Southwestern (20-5) Thursday.
Not only was the win big for this season, but it is the biggest non-tourney win since the Regional Semi Finals over South Laurel in 1993 as the Warriors were the highest ranked team that Casey knocked off since the run ’93.
“The team was excited,” Price said. “This team also knows that they have the talent to beat teams of Southwestern’s caliber.”
After beating rival Russell County, Price and company continued their road trip to square off with Southwestern at the Wigwam. The Rebels were up to the task.
“We played composed throughout the game,” Price said. “We knew (Peyton) Gover was going to be hard to stop so we wanted to try and hold everyone else in check. Collin (Miller) did a great job on Gover and everyone else did their part in making sure no one else hurt us.”
Gover put in 30, but only two additional Warriors cracked double figures.
Jake Smith put together 22 points to go with his 12 rebounds for a double double in the big win on the road while Max Reyes led the way with 26 points along with his eight rebounds and four assists.
Breece Hayes added a double double as well with 17 points and 12 boards. Miller added to his defensive efforts with 8 points and four assists. The senior also hit four free throws down the stretch that iced the game for the Rebels.
“They all came up big,” said Price. “We aren’t the biggest team, so our guards have to rebound. Jake is really rebounding well lately. Breece has been solid all year on the glass. Max really just took what they gave him. His pull up jumper was on point. Collin didn’t score the ball, but he played really good defense. We also hit 23-of-24 from the free throw line.”
Southwestern had erased a one-point halftime deficit and led by four after three. The Rebels took the fourth quarter 33-26 and the game with a final of 80-77.
On the shoulders of the Russell County and Southwestern wins, the Rebels went to Woodford County (13-12) and the momentum followed them. Casey put the Yellow Jackets away 73-65 despite a sluggish start.
“We started poorly,” Price pointed out. “I think we had six turnovers in the first quarter. We never panicked and continued to play as a team and were able to gain the lead before half. We controlled the game in the second.”
Casey had a three-point edge at the break and turned that into an eight-point advantage by the end of the third stanza.
Smith and Reyes each scored 20 to lead the Rebels.
Smith notched a second-straight double double as he added 10 boards while Reyes added five assists. Hayes tallied another double double with 10 and 10. Miller again was a factor defensively swiping six steals, but also had a great game overall with 19 points and five assists.
“Collin really set the tone with his defense,” said Price. His six steals were very disruptive to Woodford. He almost had two or three more as well.”
“We definitely put a lot of responsibility on (Breece and Jake),” Price added. “They just go out and play hard. They expect to produce like that.”
The three-game win streak is a welcome change to the roller coaster from the early part of the season.
This group is preparing to defend the 47th District crown with a simple message.
“I know it’s cliché,” said Price. “We are just taking it one game at a time. We are making more disciplined choices. We are understanding when to attack and when to run the offense. We have improved as a team defensively, but we are still growing in that area. We are trying to be our best for the post season.”

Casey 80, (11) Southwestern 77
Points: M. Reyes 26, J. Smith 22, B. Hayes 17, C. Miller 8, M. Christian 3, C. Brown 2, C. McQueary 2.

Casey 73, Woodford County 65
Points: J. Smith 20, M. Reyes 20, C. Miller 19, B. Hayes 10, C. Brown 4.