Darren Doyle, story and photos
It was a close match throughout the entire game, but the Wildcats let one slip away from them as Warren East rallied from a 7 point deficit in the final minute of regulation as they fell 89-86.
A back-and-forth contest during most of the night, the Wildcats were down as much as 9 in the second quarter. Edmonson County trailed 42-37 at the half but came out on a 6-2 run to start the third to cut East's lead to 44-41. Things stayed at the same pace until the Wildcats ended another small run of 9-5 on a Bailey Board basket that tied the score for the first time since things were 17-17 during the first quarter.
The third quarter ended in a 59-59 tie, and the Wildcats went back to dribble drives and post play as they built a 69-62 lead on another Board basket and foul with 5:25 to go. Board was unable to convert the three point play, but the Wildcats held their ground and extended the lead to 77-68 with a Sowders basket that was high- off the glass with 2:30 to go. Shortly after, a foul was called against the Wildcats and was assessed to Buttram, which was his 5th. Coach Mac was extremely upset because it appeared that Buttram wasn't even involved in the play, nevertheless, he fouled out of the game.
From this point, everything that could go right for the Raiders did, and all that could wrong for the Cats did, as the Raiders would outscore Edmonson County 12-2 during the final two minutes of the game. A Cuban Sowders basket made it 79-72 with 1:09 left, but the Raiders defense was stifling and the Wildcats had trouble handling the ball.
A Wildcat turnover led to a Warren East basket, then also a three pointer by the Raiders to cut the EC lead to 79-77 with about 40 seconds to go. The Cats drew the foul and went to the free throw line with 29 seconds left but were unable to connect on either shot. A Warren East drive to the hoop drew a foul on Blankenship with 16 seconds left, where East hit both free throws. The Wildcats committed another turnover shortly after the ball was inbounded, but East missed a shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
Blankenship started the overtime with a bucket, but was soon after called for his 5th foul, putting the Wildcats at another disadvantage. After two free throws and two more buckets, the Raiders jumped out to an 85-81 lead when Sowders drew a foul in the paint. He would make only one out of two free throws but Tucker Cole grabbed the offensive board and his putback made it 85-84 with 1:21 left.
The Wildcats missed a couple of easy shots at the rim and missed more key free throws as the clock wound down, yet East made theirs during the final seconds to hold on for the 89-86 win.
"It's tough to lose a game like this," said assistant coach Bart Weaver. "You're not going to beat very many good teams when you commit 21 turnovers. We were also about 64% from the free throw line, and two of them were crucial in regulation, two of them in overtime, and we missed them."
He said the Wildcats knew that Warren East would apply tons of pressure on the ball and that Edmonson County wanted to get the ball up the court and into the paint.
"We out-rebounded them, but it comes down to 21 turnovers and free throws. We played hard, our kids are always going to play hard, and we had that 7 point lead in the fourth, and man, that was tough losing that lead. It was a tough game to lose."
The team had impressive stats with 5 Wildcats in double figures. Bailey Board led the way in scoring with 19, Sowders had 17 points and 5 rebounds, Buttram had 16 points and 9 rebounds, as Skaggs also had 16.
Blankenship had an impressive game with the team's only double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, Tucker Cole had 4 with 5 rebounds, and Sasse had 2 points.
The Wildcats fall to 12-8 on the season and will now face Grayson County at home on Friday night in a girl/boy double header. The boys are 3-0 in district play this season.