Bulldogs avenge early season loss to Martin County, advancing to the Mountain Classic Semifinals

Hazard avenges early season loss to Martin County, advances to Mountain Classic semifinal
Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 10:08 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 11:52 AM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Hazard outlasted Martin County in the final first round game of the WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic Presented by Kentucky Farm Bureau and Sponsored by ARH. Wade Pelfrey and the Bulldogs kept Brady Dingus and the Cardinals at bay 75-65.

Hazard is the defending 14th region champions, while Martin County won the 15th in 2019-20.

The two stars battled it out as one would expect, but both players would get off to a slow start in the first half. Pelfrey had 8 to Dingess’s 4.

“They played really good defense,” said Martin County’s Junior Brady Dingus. “They challenged me the whole game.”

“Shots weren’t falling early, but I just kept shooting through them,” said Senior Wade Pelfery.

Both teams saw others step up to help Pelfrey and Dingess. Hazard’s Senior Chris Jones recorded 8 points, but helped the Bulldogs in bigger ways that weren’t show on the court.

“He rebounded the ball pretty well for us,” said Hazard coach Al Holland. “I felt like we have improved in that area in the last month.”

Sophomore Max Johnson may have only scored 10 points, but he two had a bigger impact on the Bulldogs win.

“I don’t really worry that much about points but I thought I played pretty good defense and tried to crash the boards as hard as I can and just be a spark plug on the floor,” said Johnson. Johnson inherited a bigger role this season with Jarrett Napier and Tyson Turner out due to injury.

Martin County’s Freshman Luke Hale stepped up big for the Cardinals scoring 12 of his 14 points in the first half during his first real taste on the big stage.

“It is just a fun experience to come out here and perform decent in front of all these people,” said Hale. “It is a big step from last year. It is a lot of pressure but I just have fun.”

Dingess turned up the wick in the second half scoring 24 points, earning him a spot on the All-Tournament team.

“In the second half my shots just started falling,” said Dingess.

Thursday’s matchup was a grudge match of January 9th’s game that saw Martin County beat Hazard 77-66 in Inez.

“They adjusted a little bit from the first time we played them,” said Cardinals coach Jason James. They just came out and seemed like they wanted it a little more. Pelfrey played great.”

Hazard’s Senior lead the Bulldogs with 20 points.

The win for the Bulldogs marks their second in as many years over the Cardinals during the WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic, as the two teams meet in the semifinals last year.

Hazard will return to the semifinals on Saturday, when they play Harlan County. The Black Bears beat the Knott Central Patriots Wednesday night in a double-overtime thriller.

You can watch the post-game interviews below:

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