Darren Doyle, story, Alyssa Doyle, photos:
An unexpected early barrage of three-pointers from Daviess County, paired with some very untimely turnovers from Edmonson County resulted in the 63-60 Wildcats' loss to the Panthers in the 2022-23 season opener at home last night at ECHS.
The Wildcats looked to get the ball in the paint, which worked early as they led 15-14 after the first. The second quarter saw Daviess County start knocking down threes and taking the lead. They hit seven of them in the first half and went 10/20 for the game for 50% shooting from behind the arc. The score was tied at 34 at halftime.
While the Panthers hit a three to start the third quarter, Edmonson County did a much better job of fighting through screens and defending the three-pointer; however, a few of those untimely turnovers led to a 46-38 lead from the Panthers.
Edmonson County then went on an impressive 8-0 run to tie the score at 46 with 2:21 left in the third, finished off by Boden Bates' bank shot from the left side, which forced a Panther timeout.
Neither team scored for the next minute until Tyler Anderson's free throws gave the Cats a 48-46 lead with 1:27 left in the third. Anderson finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds and was a perfect 8/8 from the line. Edmonson County led 50-48 at the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcats looked as though they were taking command as the fourth quarter began with a 54-48 lead. They held Daviess County scoreless until 5:38 to go. The Panthers were able to close the gap to 54-52 when the Wildcats threw the ball out of bounds for an unforced turnover with 2:54 left. The Panthers took a 55-54 lead on their next possession as they hit a three with 2:21 to go.
Edmonson's Zander Bass nailed a tough jumper through contact to regain the lead at 56-55 with two minutes left, but the Cats gave up a wide open three on Daviess County's next possession and the Panthers were up again at 58-56 with 1:37 left. The Cats couldn't convert on their next possession and Edmonson's Will Alexander set up for the charge on the other end under the basket for the incoming Panther shot. He was called for a foul as the bucket went in. Daviess missed the free throw and was then charged a foul on the rebound attempt.
Edmonson's Braxton Highbaugh missed the front end of the bonus but the ball was tipped out and rebounded by Alexander. Tyler Anderson drove to the right side of the basket and banked in a layup under heavy contact. The Cats trailed 58-60 with 46 seconds to go. Edmonson County's full court pressure caused a turnover as Highbaugh swiped a pass in midair; he threw the ball to Bass near the Cats' basket but he couldn't hang on to it through contact from the defensive player. Both players went to the ground and Daviess County recovered the ball and called timeout with 33 seconds left. The Cats were back in the same situation, this time with 13 seconds less left on the clock.
Daviess County drew the foul with 25 seconds to go and hit both free throws for a 62-58 lead. Highbaugh drove the lane and drew the foul with 16 seconds left. He hit both shots to bring them within two points. Daviess was fouled with 12 seconds on the clock. They missed the first shot but made the second, (63-60) leaving opportunity for the Cats to tie it with a three.
Coach Brad Johnson called a timeout to set up a final play. The Cats weren't able to get off a good shot and Braden Wall was forced to put up a difficult turnaround three at the buzzer that fell short.
Coach Johnson gave his assessment of the loss after the game.
"We didn't take care of the ball at key parts of the game," he said. "I take the blame myself, I've got to have them more ready, but on a key possession up three or four and we just throw it out of bounds? I mean come on."
He said the Cats obviously have some things to fix while the season gets off in full swing with another game tonight on the road at Nelson County and on Saturday at Cumberland County.
"I'm just really disappointed with, daggone it, how we handled the ball," he said. "We answered the call (when) they made a little run there. I said 'ok, we're gonna see what we're made of right here,' when we're down five or six, and man, we answered the charge, came back and took the lead. But then we just fiddle-farted around and threw it out of bounds."
Highbaugh led the Cats in scoring with 15 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Anderson added 14 and 6 rebounds. Boden Bates had 11 points off the bench. Alexander added 8, Wall added 6 points and 9 rebounds, and Bass had 6 points and 5 rebounds.
Edmonson County shot 47% from the field, 28% from behind the arc, and 77% from the free throw line. They committed 12 turnovers and out-rebounded the Panthers 28-15.
Edmonson County is 0-1 on the season and travels to Nelson County for a JV/V match tonight beginning at 6PM.
The Lady Cats will take on Russellville tonight at home in the season opener for a varsity game only, beginning at 7PM. The game will be streamed live through the Edmonson Voice.