LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The John Hardin boys basketball team came off the Rupp Arena floor last March 14 heartbroken after losing 72-69 three overtimes to Pikeville in the opening round of the Sweet 16. More than eleven months later, they haven't tasted defeat again.
The Bulldogs are 31-0 with a junior-dominated team that lost its top two scorers from the previous season. The general thought was that they would take a step back from the 28-8 team that won the 5th Region title in 2017-18. That thought underestimated the talent returning and the motivation provided that March night in Lexington. A team that was picked to finish fifth in its own region is now the last unbeaten standing and ranked No. 1 in the state for the first time in the school's 17-year history.
"We lost two really good scorers," head coach Jared McCurry said. "They averaged 40 points and 16 rebounds between them. People thought we'd be down. But that loss to Pikeville has really motivated these kids, kind of put a fire in them. We worked extremely hard over the summer, and it's showing this year."
McCurry is in his fifth year as head coach after five as an assistant at John Hardin. The former Bellarmine and European professional player said his Bulldogs won't wow people getting off the bus, but they work well together.
"We're not great at one position. We're good at every position." McCurry said. "We have all the pieces. We have an inside game. We have good guards who can handle the ball. We have shooters, guys that can attack the basket, and they've all bought in on the defensive end and want to win."
John Hardin has won three tournaments already this season. They won the Owensboro Invitational and the Taylor County Holiday Classic in December and the inaugural Kentucky 2A State Championship in January.
"We expected a lot from each other," senior guard Jachai Walker said. "We all have experience. Everybody had to step up in certain roles and come together as a team."
On Friday, they will try to add a 17th District title with the hopes of making it back-to-back 5th Region crowns the following week and then a shot at the big prize in Lexington.
"They know what the ultimate goal is," McCurry said. "We said it right after the Pikeville game in Rupp Arena. We want to get back to that locker room and feel better about ourselves after we play. They know to get there, you've got to focus on these games, and that's the most important thing."
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