Edmonson Voice Sports
Laney Meredith, photos
Austin "Cuban" Sowders joined the 1000 point club last night in Leitchfield as his 19 points and 12 rebounds led the way in the Wildcat 58-55 win over district rival Grayson County.
The Wildcats were all business in the heated rivalry as they let Grayson County know early on that they came to play, jumping out to a 10-0 lead to start the game. The Cougars got on board with a couple of three point shots, but those were answered with a Hunter Buttram 3 of his own, along with a bucket by Sowders. With about 1:15 left in the first, Sowders hit a basket in the paint, giving the Wildcats a 17-6 lead, which was also number 1,000 for his career.
Sowders was humbled as he reached the rare milestone. "When you join a club with the elite players that have come through Edmonson County, it's an honor," he said. He didn't say anymore about the feat as the subject was changed to the team's victory. "Any win against Grayson County is huge and feels great," he added. "Tonight we came ready to play and we kept up the intensity."
The first quarter ended with a Hunter Buttram put back at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 19-6 lead. Grayson County Head Coach Kelly Carwile was assessed with a technical foul following the basket and Buttram began the second quarter shooting the free throws, hitting one of two and extending the lead 20-6.
The Cougars outscored the Wildcats 18-14 during the second quarter and cut Edmonson County's lead to 34-24 at halftime. Things stayed fairly even for both teams during the third with a slight advantage for EC. Attitudes and aggression began to rise as each team began to get more physical. With 1:26 left in the quarter, Iszic Blankenship got tangled up with Cougar player over a rebound and Blankenship slung the player to the floor as he attempted to clear the ball.
Blankenship was issued a technical foul on the play but Grayson County missed both free throws. After getting the ball back, Tucker Cole came up with a steal and knocked down a bucket for the Cats with about a minute left in the third. Blankenship made a basket with 10 seconds left in the quarter, and EC led 46-35 going into the fourth.
"The game was very chippy, but we let them talk the talk, and we walked the walk," Sowders said. "We're a family, we have each other's backs."
No lead is safe in district play, especially against a good team on the road with passionate fans. The Cougars began the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run to cut the EC lead to 5 when Sowders drew a foul and knocked down two foul shots to extend the lead back to 7 at 48-41.
After a few back-and-forths, Grayson County came within 3 on a bucket to cut the Wildcat lead to 50-47 with 4:48 left in the game. That's as close as the Cougars would get as the Wildcats were able to maintain their composure and hit 6-8 free throws down the stretch. The Cougars failed an attempt to tie the score near the buzzer with a missed three as Edmonson County went on to win 58-55.
Hunter Buttram also put up double figures with 14 points while pulling down 9 rebounds. "It's always great to beat Grayson," Buttram said. "It's just so different than any other game. It makes me more nervous preparing for this game, but I love it."
Wildcat players and fans alike all helped Sowders celebrate the 1000 point achievement as he was presented the game ball. Several stopped to have photos taken with the senior forward.
"Cuban played a great game tonight," said Buttram. "I'm so glad he got his 1000th tonight. He's a great leader on and off the court. We've played a lot of games together and I couldn't ask for a better teammate out there with me."
Also helping in the effort was Bailey Board with 9 pts and 3 rebounds, Blankenship with 4 pts and 7 rebounds, Tucker Cole with 6 points and a rebound, and Caleb Skaggs had 6 points.
The Wildcats improved to 11-6 overall on the season and 2-0 in district play. They are scheduled to take on Butler County at home on Friday, Jan 15th in another district game.