Cats Win 69-64
Darren Doyle, story: Madison Doyle, photos:
With a nearly packed-out gym at Edmonson County High School for the 2023 basketball homecoming, the Wildcats took the floor with authority, as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back in a 69-64 win over district rival Butler County.
Facing Butler County's offensive threats Ty Price, a sophomore guard that averages 30 points per game, and Lawson Rice, a sophomore forward good for 19 points per game, Edmonson County's game plan was to focus on fundamental basketball and not get caught up in a big game atmosphere, or who is scoring what.
The Wildcats did just that with solid defense and rebounding. They held the Bears' scoring stars to 25 and 14, respectively. While 39 points is still plenty of offense for two players, it's ten points lower than their combined averages, which could've been the difference in the game.
"They have two great players and we just wanted Price to work for everything he got--kind of 'kill the legs' and make him work for it," said Head Coach Brad Johnson. "I feel like we did that. If a guy makes a fade away in your face with you hand up, you know, good shot, man, and go the other way. We handled late-game situations better, but still threw it away a little bit. I told them before the game--what an atmosphere. One month from now in the district tournament, we're going to play better than we play tonight, but let's play better than we play tonight. We haven't played our best game yet."
Coach Johnson said free throw shooting must improve in order to be a late-season quality team and the Wildcats missed several opportunities late in the game. It allowed Butler County to close the scoring gap in the final minute, which made the game much closer than it actually was throughout the contest. The Cats shot only 44% from the line on 11 of 25 shooting.
From the field, shooting was a different story for the Cats. They shot 62% from the floor on 26 of 42 shooting and made 6 out of 12 from behind the arc (50%). They out-rebounded the Bears and took advantage of beating them down the floor in transition for several easy layups. While Price still put up 25 points for Butler County, they were spread out and relatively quiet for the game.
The Wildcats committed 17 turnovers, but Coach Johnson said that while that looks bad on paper, it's not as bad as it seems.
"When I used to press and play up and down the whole game, a reporter said to me once, "coach, you turned it over 17 times," but I said, "did you see how many times the game went up and down the floor?" There were so many possessions in that game that there's opportunities to make turnovers. But I get it, we can't make that many, and heck, we got caught up in the action and threw the ball over our heads a couple of times. So there's stuff to clean up. When you get a win, you can watch the negative stuff, you don't have to pound 'em on the back and build 'em back up. When you win, you get to play out the negatives, so we'll fix it."
Coach said that there is no rest for the weary and their schedule is difficult for a reason, and that's for the purpose of playing their best basketball during the postseason.
"We should be built 'Ford-tough' by the end of the year with the gantlet we've been through, so hopefully, that's the way it's going to work out."
It was a team effort by the Wildcats, with four players in double figures and one with a double-double.
Will Alexander led with 15 points and 7 rebounds, Braden Wall had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Braxton Highbaugh had 12 points, Tyler Anderson had 10, Zander Bass had 8, Caden Mills had a big 7 points off the bench, and Boden Bates had 3.
Edmonson County is now 11-8 on the season and 2-1 in District 12 play. They are scheduled to travel to Todd County Central on Monday for a JV/V match beginning at 6PM.