Photos and story by Joseph Barkoff:
Edmonson County High School boys' basketball closed out their annual tournament in game three of Rafferty’s/Double Dogs Caveland Classic against visiting Owensboro Knights Christian Friday, December 22nd in Brownsville.
Edmonson opened the tournament Wednesday Dec. 20th against the Bluegrass Blazers of Oakland, defeating them 78-59, shooting almost 55 percent from the field with four players in double figures for scoring and a total of 29 rebounds.
On the second night, Thursday, Dec. 21st, Edmonson faced Owensboro Knights Christian. They defeated the home school team 85-63 with six players in double figures for scoring. Edmonson shot just below 43 percent from the field and hauled in 43 rebounds.
Night three, in the final game of the tournament, Bethlehem came out pushing the pace, and seemed to keep the Wildcats off their style of a more controlled game. Due to the pace and handful of turnovers, the first quarter ended with Bethlehem on top 22-13 over host Edmonson County.
“We gotta play better defense to start out the game,” Edmonson head coach Trey Tinsley said after the game. “I felt like it always takes us a quarter to play defense.”
At 11 games in, they need to start better defensively and stop committing “silly” turnovers,” he said.
“Against quality teams, you can’t put yourself in a hole,” Tinsley said.
Despite being behind in double digits most of the quarter, Edmonson was able to claw back to within 6 points by the end of the first half.
Edmonson was losing the rebound war 17-8, and while both teams were shooting around 45 percent from the field, Bethlehem was taking more shots.
If they want to win big games, Tinsley said, they have to rebound it and get off to better starts defensively.
“We had a good tournament,” he said. “I would’ve loved to get the third one there to win our Classic.”
They have won two of three now in the couple previous weeks, including this week, and Tinsley said he is ready for them to win three out of three next week.
“We’re learning stuff and we’re getting better,” he said.
The second half, Edmonson came out playing their style of more cerebral play and continued their momentum, taking Bethlehem’s lead down to 2 points around 4 minutes left in the third quarter.
Two three-pointers from Bethlehem and the lead was back to 8 points, 44-36 in favor of Bethlehem.
With just under a minute-and-a-half left in the third, Edmonson trailed again in the double digits, 47-36.
With a classic up-and-in, rebound, shoot, score from Edmonson County junior power forward Wyatt Gravil as the buzzer sounded, the Wildcats trailed back in single digits, 49-40 with 8 minutes left in the tournament.
Edmonson was not able to find the solution for shutting down Bethlehem and getting within 6 points during the final minutes was as close as they would get.
The final score was 68-56 in favor of Bethlehem of Edmonson.
“We started off really slow,” senior shooting guard Will Alexander said after the game. “I feel like we’ve been starting off slow and we can get to that point where we start off games how we finish them, I feel like we can win these games.”
Alexander had 16 points and 1 rebound, Gravil had 10 points and 3 rebounds, senior power forward Layne Ashley had 9 points and four rebounds and junior power forward Joshua Decker with 4 points and 5 rebounds, according to the unofficial stats by the Edmonson Voice Live Broadcast.
“I was happy with how we played in the first two games,” Alexander said. “We obviously want to win everything, but 2 and 1, you can’t be too upset about it.”
The Wildcats travel to face Thomas Nelson at 7:30 p.m. January 2 in Bardstown.