MORGANFIELD — Christian County did some experimenting in its season finale, trying some new things and maybe adding some wrinkles ahead of the Eighth District Tournament next week.
County head coach Kerry Stovall tried a five-guard lineup in its 74-43 win over Union County in Morganfield on Tuesday night and said he was wanting to try some new looks to see what could work for his team now that guard Qua Chambers has returned from a foot injury.
“We played five guards at times. That was something that I wanted to look at before we got into the postseason,” Stovall said. “I wanted to see if we could rebound the basketball with those five guards. In the first half, we didn’t do a very good job. The second half I thought we did a much better job.”
At times, the five-guard rotation would do what most would expect — jumping passing lanes, forcing turnovers and playing scrappy basketball with its high-tempo look.
Stovall said he wanted to put the pressure on the Braves from the start, and the game plan defensively helped the Colonels, especially with the small lineup.
“I think any time you can create turnovers and create easy scoring opportunities, it’s a positive for your team,” Stovall said. “This is probably the first night where we’ve ever gone out and said we were going to press make or miss. I wanted to see how we looked doing it, especially with those five guards on the floor. … Just a lot of experimenting going on (Tuesday night) and kind of seeing where we could put guys and fit guys and where they could fit in.”
A big reason Stovall was able to run out the five guards is because Chambers is back.
Returning Saturday during the loss to Marshall County, Chambers played a big role and logged a lot of minutes Tuesday night. While he didn’t find the score sheet in the win, Stovall said he’s happy with where he is at so quickly after returning to action.
“My concern when he came back was his conditioning,” Stovall said. “I think he defended well and made a phenomenal play on the break. A guy went in for a layup and he pinned it on the backboard. I think he’s starting to understand that his body is ok to go full speed. That is always difficult when you’ve sat out for a month and a half. I also think he’s a little frustrated with himself because his shot is not going in. If he believes in himself as much as I believe in him, he’s going to be fine — and the same can be said for our whole basketball team.”
The Colonels also shot the ball well from three in the win. Bubba Leavell, Stephen Bussell, Trez Vaughn and Mikeon Mathis all made multiple 3-pointers in the game and the Colonels hit 10 from long range.
“I thought that would be a weapon for our team throughout the year,” Stovall said. “We’ve struggled behind the arc. But I think over the last three games, we’ve shot about 40%. If we can get our guys shooting that kind of clip from the perimeter and spread teams out a little bit, it gives Qua a little more opportunity to get to the rim and attack.”
County finishes the regular season with a 10-18 record.
In a season where his team hasn’t been fully healthy since the first game of the season, Stovall is hoping his team can get healthy for next Tuesday’s contest against Hopkinsville in the district tourney. He said he doesn’t plan on making many adjustments to his team ahead of the game.
“I think anytime that you go into a game and think you have to be something that you haven’t been is a very dangerous thing. So we’re not going to change a whole lot of things,” he said. “We are who we are, and I’m just excited about being able to go nine deep and the experience we have going nine deep …
“We’ve had to play so many games where we’ve had to play seven guys or eight guys, and it’s going to be nice that our guys can come out to play and know that they don’t have to worry about playing 32 minutes,” he continued.
“They can come out and go as hard as they can and know the person coming in is going to be a positive impact and hold the ground until they get back on the floor.”
Christian County 74, Union County 43
CC (10-18) 20 27 14 13 — 74
UC (9-19) 13 14 6 10 — 43
CC: Stephen Bussell 20, Mikeon Mathis 22, Bubba Leavell 14, KJ Vaughn 6, Trez Vaughn 8, Quan Forte 2, Triniy Davis 2
UC: Keishon Martin 12, Kaleb Kanipe 12, Izaiah Manuel 7, Gabe Mayes 6, Eli Mackey 5, Kris Hughes 1