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Campbell County wins boys’ basketball tournament with impressive defensive performance

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

If you ask Campbell County boys’ basketball coach Aric Russell why his team finished the first month of the season with the best record in Northern Kentucky, he’ll tell you defense deserves most of the credit. The Camels proved that point with a 59-33 win over Woodford County in the championship game of the Lloyd Invitational Tournament on Friday that raised their record to 12-1.


Campbell County senior Garren Bertsch takes the ball to the basket in the Lloyd Invitational championship game against Woodford County. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

In their first 13 games, the Camels held nine opponents to 59 points or less and now have a 57.1 defensive average that’s probably among the best in the state.

“We’ve had nights where we’ve had a little bit of shooting troubles just like always in early December, but our defense has always helped us win a lot of ball games,” Russell said.

Woodford County definitely had a hard time putting points on the board against the Camels’ aggressive man-to-man defense on Friday. The Yellow Jackets ended up shooting 22.4 percent (11 of 49) from the field and committed 16 turnovers.

In the third quarter, Campbell County put the game away with a 17-5 scoring run that produced a 45-22 lead. During the eight-minute period, Woodford County made just one field goal and three free throws.

“Even though they were slowing it down, we were being real stingy and they were having trouble getting shots,” Russell said. “Defense was definitely the key for us tonight, and it was the whole tournament.”

The Camels also played well at the other end of the court in Friday’s game. They shot 48.7 percent (20 of 41) from the field by moving the ball around for open looks. Nine players were in the scoring column with 12 points coming off the bench.

We’re trying to move the ball, get it side to side and inside out and not let it stick in our hands,” Russell said. “We’ve still got a way to go, but we’re doing pretty well with it.”


Campbell County senior Cole Hegyi, No. 5, puts up a shot against Alex Cason of Woodford County. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Campbell County senior forward Garren Bertsch scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in the first half that ended with the Camels holding a 28-17 lead. In the second quarter, he made two free throws, a driving layup, two 3-point shots and a stick-back basket to account for 12 of his team’s 16 points in that period.

“My teammates were looking for me and I was open a lot so I was just taking the open shots,” Bertsch said.

In the third quarter, senior forward Cole Hegyi scored six points and junior guard Tanner Clos connected on two 3-pointers to help the Camels extend their lead to 45-22.

Woodford County switched to a full-court trapping defense in the fourth quarter and Campbell County committed six turnovers without scoring a point in the first four minutes. That’s when Russell called a timeout to get his players back on track and they responded by scoring on their next four possessions to clinch the victory.

Hegyi was named the tournament’s most valuable player with Bertsch and junior guard Joel Day joining him on the all-tournament team. Bertsch scored 48 points in three games, followed by Hegyi with 44 and Clos with 33.

Russell had a hard time picking three players for the all-tournament team because everybody on his roster played well during the three-game sweep.

“When you go as deep as we do you’ve definitely got a chance to win some games,” Russell said. “We don’t have any selfish kids and that’s key. We tell them every day if (opponents) try to take somebody away, someone else has to step up. They bought into that and hopefully we can keep it going.”

CAMPBELL COUNTY      12  16  17  14 — 59
WOODFORD COUNTY     7  10   5   11 — 33

CAMPBELL COUNTY (12-1): Hegyi 3 2 8, Clos 3 2 10, Day 2 0 4, Bertsch 6 5 20, Geiman 1 2 4, Jolly 2 0 4, Helton 1 1 4, Schaeffer 1 0 2, Marlow 1 0 3. Totals: 20 12 59.

WOODFORD COUNTY (7-6): Cromwell 4 1 11, Stomberg 1 0 2, Cason 1 0 2, Richards 3 3 10, Smith 0 2 2, Alexander 10 2, Tabor 1 0 2. Totals: 11 8 33.

Three-pointers: CC — Bertsch 3, Clos 2, Helton, Marlow. WC — Cromwell 2, Richards.

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