MOUNT OLIVET – Beware. The Black Devils are here.
And they’ve come to stay.
The Robertson County boys’ basketball team pulled out an all-out onslaught on Bracken County Tuesday night in Mount Olivet. The Black Devils poured in bucket after bucket in transition, for a 91-56 victory over the Polar Bears.
“We’ve put in a whole strength and conditioning program here and really think we can run the floor now. Our big guys have shed some weight and I thought we could run the floor real well and beat them in transition,” Black Devils coach Patrick Kelsch said. “ I really felt like we had an advantage there and the way I felt we were able to do it was with our defensive rebounding and not give them second and third chances.”
It was a foul early in the second quarter that ignited Robertson in front of a sizeable crowd. After a Rakheem “Bobo” Swanston steal, he was fouled hard by Polar Bears’ Tad Fisher which sent Swanston to the ground and in pain. Things got a little chippy immediately after as Black Devils’ Mason Burden was assessed a technical for having some words with Fisher.
“I didn’t want my guys to respond in a negative way. I like Mason taking up for his teammate but we need to keep our head and composure in that situation. I thought Bobo was going to the basket hard and it’s just an unfortunate play. He’s tough, when you survive a hurricane, something like that doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Kelsch said, referring to Swanston's roots, being from the Virgin Islands and coming to Robertson County in the fall after having his home displaced from a series of hurricanes this summer.
Fisher was assessed a flagrant foul, Swanston rose to his feet, was able to shoot his two free throws and the Black Devils took off from there. Robertson would go on a 19-3 run, already with a 24-12 lead to make it 43-15 and getting the game out of reach before halftime even came.
“It looked like to me he went for the ball. I need to look at it again. He wasn’t trying to hurt the kid,” Polar Bears coach Jason Hinson said. “It ticked them off and they came out and hit some shots after it. They fed off of it, hit some shots and did a good job.”
Bracken responded before the half with a boost from Jared Zornes, who scored the final eight Polar Bear points before the break, to get them within 45-23 at halftime.
But the Black Devils kept pouring it on. Leading scorer Mason Burden scored 14 points in a 27-point quarter for Robertson as they forced a running clock with less than two minutes to play in the third, building a 72-37 lead.
“Mason had struggled to put the ball in the basket the first couple games. Hadn’t made a 3-pointer, but he played within himself and I thought tonight we played good team basketball. We’ve got a lot of weapons and a lot of guys that can score,” Kelsch said.
They’d go into the fourth with a 72-39 lead and at the 3:30 mark in the fourth, Kelsch cleared his bench to get some reserves some playing time as the fans gave the five exiting on the floor a well-deserved standing ovation.
“We hadn’t beat Bracken County since February of 2012. It’s been a long time,” Kelsch said.
Cole Bishop and Trey Deaton showed some fight from there, scoring 12 of the 15 Polar Bears final points, but it wasn’t enough to keep it from a lopsided final at 91-56.
“To say I thought it was going to be like this was not expected. They had a nice crowd and a nice team and fed off their energy,” Hinson said. “At the end of the day they were more physical than we were and we got to do a better job being stronger. We’re working very hard, we just have to work hard the right way. We’ll get there.”
The Black Devils were led by Burden’s 25 points, Sebastian Dixon added 20 and Alex Schalch did what he wanted down low with 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Black Devils shot it well from the perimeter as well, knocking down 11 3-pointers in the contest.
The win improved them to 2-1 with Burgin on deck Friday at home before they host the Robertson County Addidas Classic on Saturday as they’ll face Bath County.
The Polar Bears were led by Trey Deaton’s 13 points and nine rebounds followed by Zornes with 12, Tanner Fisher with nine and Tad Fisher eight. They dropped to 1-3 on the year and will return to Mt. Olivet Saturday for the Adidas Classic when they face Western Hills.
“It will be good for us because we just played here. Hopefully we can shoot the ball better and go from there. I’m excited about getting back into practice tomorrow and trying to get better,” Hinson said.