Darren Doyle, story: Madison Doyle photos:
If anyone goes looking for Wildcat effort, hustle, and heart today, you'll have to go to the court at the Owensboro Sportscenter, because that's where Edmonson County left all of it last night in a 54-43 season-ending loss to Meade County in round one of the Region 3 Tournament.
The Wildcats had trouble knocking down shots early and the size and aggression of Meade County had Edmonson County shuffling in the first quarter. The Green Waves jumped out to an early 13-6 lead.
Meade County's star player, 6'7" James Baker blocked and altered many Wildcat shots and it took EC a quarter and a half to adjust. The Cats began to turn things around in the second as Edmonson's Iszic Blankenship found success by taking it straight to the rim as EC outscored Meade 17-14 in the quarter and narrowed their deficit to 27-23 at the half. Blankenship led the Wildcats with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Edmonson County came out strong in the third quarter and tied it at 27 all on two free throws by Bailey Board after being fouled on a drive. Each team traded buckets and Board tied things up again at 31-31 with two more free throws but a 9-0 run on three consecutive three-pointers by Meade County had the Wildcats reeling.
Edmonson County bounced back with a 7-0 run of their own, capped off by Tucker Cole's driving basket in the lane with the foul. His converted three-point play cut it to 40-38 with 6:04 left, but that's as close as the Wildcats would get. Edmonson County's shots went cold again and Meade went on a 13-0 run that put the game out of reach for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats out rebounded the Green Waves 43-41 but shot an icy 23% from the field for the game. They were 0-10 from the three-point line.
It was the final game for five Wildcat seniors; four of which were starters: Iszic Blankenship, Bailey Board, Daniel Caudill, and Caleb Skaggs, as well as senior Peyton Talley. While the season didn't end as they and their teammates would have hoped, players were still positive about the year.
"It was a season to remember," said Bailey Board. "There were only 9 (Edmonson County) teams that won the district and the other team won the state, so being in that top ten is awesome. Winning the district was our goal all year. Playing for EC was a dream come true and memories that last a lifetime."
Board finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists. He finishes the 2017 season as the Wildcats' leading scorer, averaging 15.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assist per game.
Daniel Caudill said much of the same and added that not much seemed to go in the way of the Wildcats.
"Our shots were off, then they were on," he said. "We managed to keep it close, but just couldn't make enough plays. The season has been special--we started of slow, but we grew together and we were a family by the end of the year. Everybody knew their role and we accomplished something this county has wanted for a long time. It's been a blessing to play for this county."
Blankenship was not only fighting against Meade County post players, but through an illness and didn't feel well at all throughout the game; however, he found a way to overcome it as he led the Wildcats. He discussed the end of the season.
"Last night was tough. They were a really good team and I was under the weather," he said. "I think everyone was a little stressed because we weren't ready for our season to end and it's a lot of pressure."
Even with the loss, he said his senior season as a Wildcat has still been the best yet.
"We accomplished a lot as a team and our coaches pushed us to be a family. I've built a bond with these guys because of that, and that's irreplaceable."
Blankenship finishes the season averaging 11.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game.
Caleb Skaggs fell short of his 14 ppg average last night and obviously wasn't happy with the end result; however, he was still able to reflect on the season as a whole and what it meant to him and his team.
"From the beginning, we had a saying, 'end the drought,' and we worked on it all season," he said regarding the 24 years between district titles. "We accomplished something that hadn't been done in our lifetime with winning a district championship. I wouldn't trade these four years with all these guys for anything. To all the players, coaches, and fans, thank you for all your support and I love you. Good luck to all my underclassmen and also my seniors, love you guys--YAHTZEE."
Skaggs was the leading three point shooter on the team for the season, connecting on 73 threes on the year.
Head Coach Mike McClintic took responsibility, as he's always done, for what he said was a poor choice for defense during a 9-0 Meade County run, but had nothing but positive things to say about his kids.
"There's nothing to be negative about," he said. "We just got beat. We picked a bad time to not shoot the ball well, but I can't say enough about these kids. We talked in the locker room about kids coming back, but we're losing five really good seniors and we're going to miss them. But you know, they accomplished some things this year that hadn't been done in a long time."
The remaining box score was Cole 6, Lindsey 5, Vincent 2, Caudill 1.
The Wildcats finish with a 19-11 record, 2017 District Champions, while they were also first runners-up in the All A Region Classic.