It has been an up and down season for Bracken County to say the least. The Polar Bears started out the season 4-0 with solid wins over Scott, Central Hardin, and Montgomery County.
They then lost to state power Covington Catholic 79-70 at home in their first loss of the season. Not one for moral victories, coach Adam Reed said after the game they were not satisfied, because that was a game they should have won.
It was that game Bracken County lost their senior leader JuShod Commodore, who had an at-home injury where he cut a tendon in his hand. At that time, it was expected Commodore would miss the rest of his senior year.
The Polar Bears would have to go through the rest of their brutal schedule without their senior leader.
They would hit a high mark early in the season beating Ashland and Augusta on back-to-back nights by a combined 47 points. Blake Reed would score 59 points against Augusta, setting the school record.
Bracken County would then go 2-1 in the Pikeville Invitational Tournament before they would face Mason County in the White, Greer, and Maggard Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic.
Their two-point loss to Mason County after a Terrell Henry winning shot would lead to Bracken County losing six of their next eight games. Albeit with the toughest schedule in the region.
“We have two top players the region on the same team and a great supporting cast that has a lot of experience playing in big games. When we put together this schedule, we looked at what matters the most. For our program, winning the Class A and winning the District are the things that matter the most, and we felt what was going to get us prepared for this was playing the toughest schedule we can play,” said head coach Adam Reed.
Their schedule comprised of five defending region champions: Lyon County, Covington Catholic, George Rogers Clark, Perry County Central, and Ashland. It also included games with Harlan, Holy Cross, Cooper, Walton-Verona, Fleming County, Montgomery County, Campbell County, and of course, Mason County.
Those two top players are Blake and Cayden Reed. Junior Blake Reed is averaging 30 points per game and has scored just under 3,500 points in his career.
Cayden Reed, a sophomore, follows with 16 points per game and is the team’s leader in rebounds and steals.
The supporting cast has been sophomore Chase Archibald who is averaging 12 points per game and has made over 100 threes this season. While he doesn’t light up the scoring column, Coach Reed says Austin Norton does all the little things like rebounding, defending, and giving them that extra toughness inside.
On January 30, JuShod Commodore made his surprise return to the Bracken County lineup in an 88-60 route of Augusta.
“I think having this balance back with JuShod has given us a breath of fresh air.”
JuShod Commodore adds his defensive pressure and rebounding presence inside. Last year, he averaged 6 points per game with 4.5 rebounds per game. He also had a putback to send Bracken County to their first region final since 1955.
At the time of writing Bracken County is 15-12, a slight downfall after their best season in over half a century.
“It’s never been about wins and losses for me. It’s about getting these guys prepared to win a championship.”
To win the coveted 39th District Championship, Bracken County will need to beat Mason County in the first round. For Bracken County, though, that’s just what they wanted.
“We talked about the beginning of the year. This will be the year we draw Mason County in the first round and the year we knock them off. It’s been a good thing for us because it lit a fire under our guys again.”