In an exhilarating second quarterfinal of the 2023 Gardner Law King of the Bluegrass, the host Fairdale Bulldogs (9-1) edged out a hard-fought 69-67 win over Spencer County (4-5). Jacob Tucker emerged as the Central Bank Player of the Game with a game-high 23 points and 6 rebounds, punctuating his performance with two critical 3-pointers in the closing moments of the game.
The matchup was a rollercoaster of emotions, characterized by late-game heroics and a nail-biting finish. Spencer County was on a roll from the 3-point range in the fourth quarter, leading Fairdale 60-56 with just three minutes left. Drew Barron of the Bears highlighted this surge with a crucial 3-pointer. However, Fairdale responded emphatically, outscoring Spencer County 13-7 over the final three minutes following.
The game's climax was a sequence of high-stakes plays. Jacob Tucker's 3-pointer for Fairdale tied the game at 64. Spencer County's Jack Armstrong (9 points) briefly reclaimed the lead with a layup, making it 66-64 with just over a minute remaining. In a twist, Luke Erhardt (17 points) of Spencer County made a significant steal, sinking one of his two free throws to extend their lead to 67-64.
The Bulldogs showed remarkable resilience in these tense moments. Dalton Hicks (11 points) hit a game-tying 3-pointer, drawing the score level at 67 with 28 seconds left. Then, following a Spencer County miss, Hicks was fouled and showed nerves of steel to sink two free throws, pushing Fairdale into a 69-67 lead with only 7.9 seconds on the clock. The Bears couldn't overturn this deficit in the final moments with Erhardt's shot falling short to seal the Bulldogs' victory.
This win marks a significant milestone for the Fairdale Bulldogs, ushering them into their first King of the Bluegrass semifinal appearance since 2006 and just the 10th in the tournament's 42-year history. Fairdale will play the winner of the Newport/Great Crossing game in Friday's 7:30pm semifinal.