LEXINGTON, Ky. – Outstanding pressure defense forcing numerous turnovers that led to easy buckets helped Elizabethtown dismantle Knott County Central 87-59 in Game 1 of the KHSAA Boys’ Sweet 16.
Elizabethtown (20-2) fell behind 8-6 just three minutes into the game, but the Panthers used a 17-0 run over 3:18 of game time to take a 23-8 lead. The run was punctuated by a Jaquais Franklin fast-break dunk that was assisted by Kam Sherrard.
Anytime Knott County Central would turn the ball over or miss a shot, the race was on for the Panthers to get the ball out and score quickly.
Knott County Central (18-8) would be hampered in the first quarter by foul trouble from their star Colby Napier.
Napier, who went into the game averaging 21 ppg, picked up his third foul with just 20 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
The woes for the Patriots would continue just 28 seconds into the second quarter when Napier picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the bench for the rest of the first half.
Elizabethtown, who some have picked to make it to at least the semifinals, only needed seven points off the bench to easily take down the Patriots.
Franklin led all scorers with 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting with two made 3-pointers and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. Franklin would also lead the Panthers with seven rebounds and tied for the lead with Khia Sherrard in assists with seven.
Elizabethtown’s dominance in the first half shined bright in the halftime stats as the Panthers shot 57 percent from the field and only committed three turnovers while forcing KCC into 12 of their own.
The Panthers turned those opportunities into easy baskets totaling 23 points off turnovers.
Sixteen rebounds and 14 assists also spurred Elizabethtown to a 49-28 lead at the half.
KCC would show signs of life to begin the third quarter thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by Napier to cut the deficit to 49-34, but the next 4:12 of game time essentially ended any hope of a comeback as Elizabethtown went on a 14-0 run to make it 63-36 with 2:43 left in the quarter.
Elizabethtown forced five turnovers during that run and 20 for the game.
One bright spot for the game for the Patriots was the play of Josh McGuire.
McGuire would be the lone Patriot to step up in Napier’s scoring absence throughout the game and led KCC with 21 points and 10 rebounds. The rest of the Patriots totaled just 12 additional rebounds for the entirety of the game.
The fourth quarter was just a formality with the Panthers edging out the Patriots by a 17-16 margin in the stanza after the Patriots were run down from chasing the Panthers down all game long.
Elizabethtown would see all five starters score in double figures including Kam Sherrard with 16 and his brother Khia chipping in 13.
Alandre Murphy added 15 points to go along with 11 from Camden Williams.
Jacob Moberly had seven off the bench for the Panthers.
Napier would finish with 13 points despite being in foul trouble all game.
Kent Damron, Kizer Slone and Jayden Huff added five each for KCC while Drake Slone (4), Evin Eversole (4) and Scott Shepherd (2) rounded out the scoring.
Elizabethtown won nearly all facets of the game, but the most impressive stats were the offensive rebounds (17), points off turnovers (34), fast break points (26) and points in the paint (58).
Elizabethtown advances on to take on the winner of George Rogers Clark and Oldham County in the Elite 8 on Friday morning at 11 a.m.