A big fourth quarter by the Grayson County Cougars turned a neck-and-neck contest into a tough loss for the Wildcats during Friday night's 12th District Championship game, hosted by ECHS. The gym was packed as fans from both teams were ready for a hard-fought battle. Each team traded baskets until Dakota Woodcock hit an off balance three at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 16-14 lead.
The second quarter was much of the same but the Wildcats struggled from the free throw line, missing a couple of opportunities to gain momentum. Senior Chase Turley became more aggressive in the second as he scored two quick baskets, keeping the Cougars in check. The Wildcats took a 26-25 lead into the locker room at the half.
Coach Mike McClintic said the key for his team early in the game was limiting Grayson County's points in the paint. The Wildcat zone defense forced the Cougars to shoot from long range, something that was an advantage for the Cats as they out-rebounded Grayson County 26-24.
Turley went to the bench after he picked up his 3rd foul with 4:05 left in the third, but Cole Bedwell stepped it up, scoring 7 straight points as the score was tied at 44-44 going into the fourth.
The fourth quarter would be a different story as Grayson County came out on a 9-2 run. "I don't know if the word 'crumble' is right, but it seems like we just crumbled, defensively," McClintic said. "We didn't get the shots we really wanted and we started having defensive breakdowns."
The Cougars outscored the Wildcats 22-8 in the fourth, which was the difference in the game. It was a collective offensive effort for ECHS as four Wildcat scored double figures. Hunter Buttram led with 12, Chase Turley and Cole Bedwell each had 11, and Austin Sowders added 10.
Edmonson County had to start fouling with around 2:00 left, but Grayson County didn't allow EC back in the game as they hit their free throws down the stretch, shooting 89% from the foul line.
Coach McClintic said he wants to remain positive going into the regional tournament. "At the start of the season, we were picked to finish 4th in the district and 14th in our region (next to last), but because of these kids, we had success and we're going to the Regional. We obviously wanted to win the district, but it didn't happen. I'm as proud of them as I could possibly be with any team."
Story and photos