Darren Doyle, story and photos
The Edmonson County Wildcats were upset by Butler County last night in a disappointing 77-68 first round loss at the District 12 Tournament held in Leitchfield. The Wildcats came into the tournament favored with a perfect 6-0 record against district opponents.
Wildcat fans were extremely unhappy with touchy fouls and questionable calls by the officials during the first half which saw Butler County shooting in the bonus during the first quarter, and the double bonus early in the second quarter. Butler County found themselves in a little foul trouble as the game went on. The Wildcats ended with 23 total team fouls, Butler Co. had 22.
Four out of five Edmonson County starters were benched for almost the entire second quarter, which seemed to rattle the Cats and kept them from getting into a rhythm and gaining momentum.
The Wildcats had plenty of opportunities to gather themselves in the second half despite the foul troubles, but only shot 54% from the free throw line and a measly 39% from the field. The team only hit 5 of 25 three-pointers.
Butler County shot an impressive 57% from the field and hit 45% from behind the arc.
"We got off to a decent start, but the fouls starting mounting up early on," Coach Mac said. "We had to start pulling our guys out. I give a lot of credit to our bench guys for stepping up when they had to."
McClintic also said that it was just one of those nights when things didn't go their way.
"We just couldn't stop them from getting to the basket, and that's on me," said the coach. "I should've been able to come up with better ways to get defensive stops when we needed them, so that's my fault."
Austin "Cuban" Sowders said the loss was obviously very tough and that he hadn't prepared for the fact that last night would be his final game for Edmonson County.
"We had a great year, no doubt, and I love my teammates and coaches," he said. "We just couldn't get shots to fall or get any breaks last night. Being a senior, it was very hard going out the way we did."
Hunter Buttram said he had no regrets with his senior year, although it was a difficult way to end the season. "We played hard last night, but it just came down to who hit more shots, and they did," he said.
The Wildcats led 15-11 in the first quarter, which would be their largest lead of the entire game over the Bears, but a 9-1 Butler County run into the second quarter propelled the Bears to a 32-28 lead at the half and Butler County never looked back nor trailed again.
Leading the way for the Wildcats was Cuban Sowders, with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Two other Wildcats were in double figures as Hunter Buttram added 17 points and 8 rebounds, and Bailey Board finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
Caleb Skaggs had 7 points and Iszic Blankenship finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds. Jarod Hines added 2 and Tucker Cole added 1.
"Butler County came in with a good game plan," Mac said. "I give credit to them. We had some opportunities, but we just couldn't get over the hump."
As always, Coach Mac credited the effort of his team. "I'm so proud of these kids, especially our seniors. I'm a lucky coach to be able to coach a group of kids that have been brought up the right way. I hate this loss because they deserve better. I try to teach them there's more to life than basketball, still, it hurts to have their season end like this."
The Wildcats finish their season with a record of 17-10. "I hope everyone knows how proud I am of them," coach said, emotionally. "I love them like they're my sons. We're not just a team, we're a family."