Hudgin for two

Zach Hudgin (14) puts in two of his team-high 13 points as his Calloway County Lakers defeated St. Mary on Monday night.

MURRAY — The Calloway County boys basketball team had a successful return to the court at home on Monday night as St. Mary High School from Paducah visited Jeffrey Gymnasium. The Lakers were playing their first game since Feb. 6 as they had been on a COVID-19-related pause. Calloway Head Coach Brad Cleaver got balanced scoring and a great defensive effort from his squad as they defeated the Vikings 53-45. 

Both teams struggled out of the gate on their respective offensive ends of the court. Calloway opened the game in a 2-3 zone and St. Mary struggled to make shots early. The Vikings were able to get the ball into the middle of the zone at will but couldn’t make a shot. The Lakers’ length seemed to bother the St. Mary’s shooters as they missed several shots in the paint.

St. Mary countered with a zone of their own and the Lakers struggled to score early. The score was knotted at 9-9 when the Lakers’ Drew Hudgin buried a 3-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer. The Hudgin buzzer-beater to close out the first quarter gave him the only three points he scored in the game. More importantly, it gave his team a lead they would never relinquish. 

Matthew Ray knocked down a long three-point shot at the start of the second quarter to give the Lakers a six-point lead that they would maintain throughout the remainder of the first half. Ray opened the third quarter by hitting another long-range shot on his way to 12 points for the game. St. Mary pulled within four points on a bucket from Parker MacCauley. MacCauley scored a game-high 17 points but Evan Garrison and Zach Hudgin combined for an 8-0 run to give the Lakers their first double-digit lead of the game halfway through the third quarter. 

Calloway maintained a working margin of about 10 points until Jarrett Darnell drained a big three from the top of the key. No one from St. Mary picked up the ball as Darnell dribbled up the court and casually walked into a three-point shot to give the Lakers a 42-28 lead. The 14-point lead would be the largest lead of the night. Calloway closed out the game by making nine of 12 free throws from that point. 

Zach Hudgin joined Ray in double figures as he led the Lakers in scoring with 13 points. Garrison finished with nine while Darnell scored eight. Kanyon Franklin came off of the bench to chip in with eight points. The Lakers held St. Mary to 26% from the field and made 19 of their 25 free-throw attempts on their way to victory.

Coach Cleaver was pleased with how his Lakers handled their first game back from the long layoff.

“We knew it was going to be pretty rusty for us, “ Cleaver said. “Coming back we had two full days of practice after being off for quite some time. I was really pleased with how the guys played. 

“Our guys got the feel of being in a high-pressure situation and playing through it.”