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Bourbon “stands tall” to pull off huge win over fifth ranked Nicholas County

Lady Colonels used their height to slow down the All ‘A’ 10th Region Champions




PARIS, KY – It was speed versus length on Wednesday night inside Russ Day Gym, with the visiting Nicholas County wielding the former and the home Bourbon County girls owning the latter.

Led by the region’s leading scorer in freshman Maggie Simons, Nicholas County entered the game on a four game winning streak and used a full court 1-2-2 press to jump on the Lady Colonels to begin the game. But Coach Kylie Hilander and company had a game plan. Bourbon County switched from its man-to-man defense to a 3-2 zone a few minutes into the game and began passing over the top of the speedy-but-undersized Nicholas County press. After falling into the early hole, the Colonels scored the final seven points of the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 43-39 victory.

“It felt good,” she said. “Since I’ve been back here at Bourbon it seems like anytime we go play at Nicholas or Nicholas comes here, we have a pretty tough time, but they handled Nicholas County’s pressure. They are always aggressive, they get in the passing lanes, but we did a pretty good job of moving the ball.”


CERTAINLY, AN ALL-REGION PERFORMER – Lady Colonel junior Morgan Howell, who was snubbed from the 2023-2024 All 10th Region team, recently went over 300 blocks for her career. Howell also holds the school-record with 15 blocks in a single game and will lead the 10th Region in blocks per game for a second straight season. She’s also pulled down over 500 rebounds in her career.        KRISTA BARNETT I For The Citizen

Height was the difference for Bourbon County as the Colonels’ size advantage allowed the team to pass over the Nicholas County defense and disrupt the Blue Jackets’ offensive passing lanes and three-point attempts.

“We try to use our height to our advantage,” said Hilander. “We typically are the longer team. We even have a guard that’s 5’10. We have a lot of height. We have three players in the starting lineup that are about 6’0 tall, and we try to use that to our advantage. We haven’t always in every game, but we have been lately.”

With senior Laiken Hardin at the top of the 3-2 zone and juniors Regan Ring and Morgan Howell as the bottom two defenders, Bourbon County (9-19) had enough size spread across the court to keep the Lady Jackets (20-10) from getting the ball into the paint.

HER GAME IS LEGIT – Lady Colonel senior Laiken Hardin was named to the 2023-2024 10th Region Coaches Association All-Region Second Team for her play throughout the season. Hardin, who recently signed to play college basketball at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, a private Christian university in Mount Vernon, Ohio, led the Colonels to their big win over Nicholas County with 14 points.         KRISTA BARNETT I For The Citizen

“We kind of just started that this year, we’ve never really done that in the past, but it’s seemed to be one of our better defenses,” said Hilander of the 3-2 zone. “It’s nice because we have the length at the top and then bigs down at the bottom, so in that triangle we have a lot of length and that’s something that has worked well for us.”

The game was tied 17-17 at halftime, but a surge of Bourbon fast break layups to begin the third quarter opened up a lead that Nicholas County, ranked fifth in the latest 10th Region poll, was never able to close. Hilander said that pushing the ball in transition and not letting the opposing defenses get set has been a point of emphasis of late.

“We’ve been trying to talk about that a lot,” said Hilander of her team’s tempo. “It seems like in our last few losses we were kind of just letting the defense get set up, so we worked on that a lot at practice, just trying to push the ball up the floor and if we don’t have a shot right away, just pulling it back out and setting something up. They were doing a great job of that. They were making long passes up the court during the press, finding the open person. That was working really well for us in that third quarter.”

Hardin led the way offensively for Bourbon County with 14 points. Howell’s numbers had her with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Sophomore Reagan Ring finished with 8 rebounds. Senior Caylie Baker scored 6 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. Junior Riley Hunt scored 6 points to round out their scoring. As a team, Bourbon out rebounded Nicholas 40-22.

The win was arguably the biggest of the season for Hilander and company, Bourbon County’s first victory over Nicholas County since February of 2020.

Simons, a first team All-region selection by the Coaches of the 10th Region, led all scorers with 19. She also added 5 rebounds. Senior Tessa Humphries totaled 11 points, while fellow senior Nevaeh Davis finished with 5 points and 8 rebounds. Caroline Banks, a freshman, had 4 points and 4 rebounds to round out Nicholas’ stat leaders.

Earlier this season, Coach Greg Letcher, who was recently named the Coach of the Year in the Region by the Coaches Association, Lady Jackets won the 10th Region All “A” Championship and advanced to the semifinal round of the Kentucky Statewide All A State Tournament for small schools.

BAKER IN CONTROL – Bourbon County senior Caylie Baker had that incredibly determined look on her face as she made her way towards the basket.      KRISTA BARNETT I For The Citizen


Bourbon County will travel over to Winchester Monday night to take on the region’s second ranked team Montgomery County in the semifinal round of the 40th District Tournament at George Rogers Clark High School. Coach Dustin High’s Lady Indians (19-7) won both regular season games by scores of 69-28 and 54-31.

Nicholas County will make the trip over to Falmouth on Monday evening where they will face Harrison County (9-21) in the 38th District Tournament at Pendleton County High School. Letcher’s team, the defending district champions, beat Coach Bill Watson’s team during the regular season by scores of 67-35 and 65-33.

NICE SHOT, NOW LET’S GET BACK ON DEFENSE – While Bourbon County bench celebrated after one of their players nailed a three-point shot, Lady Colonel first-year Head Coach Kylie Hilander was telling her team to get back on defense. After starting the season losing 14 of their first 15 games played, Hilander’s team ended the ear winning 8 of their last 13.                                           KRISTA BARNETT I For The Citizen

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