Cats Execute Down The Stretch For 60-55 Win
Darren Doyle, story: Madison Doyle, photos:
Wildcat Head Coach Brad Johnson said in a pregame interview that he saw the Central Hardin Bruins (9-7) as the best team they would face so far in the season. With talented guard Brett Decker averaging 25ppg, guard Ace Jaggers scoring 16 per game, and 6'7" Jakob Frederickson scoring 10 points and 8 rebounds per game, it definitely appeared as though the Cats would have their hands full in Glendale last night.
With a game plan set on limiting Decker, spreading the floor on offense, and being patient with the ball, the Wildcats showed early that they were focused on taking care of business. Being without senior forward Braden Wall for the last two games and without senior guard Tyler Anderson for another two games a couple weeks ago (the Cats lost all four), Edmonson County appeared to be back at full strength last night.
It was Edmonson County's defense that was most noticeable early. A wide and active zone defense kept the Bruins out of the paint and forced contested long range shots. Central Hardin, who attempts around 20 three-point shots per game and hits almost nine of them, struggled from behind the line, thanks to the defensive play of the Wildcats. They also held Central Hardin's Decker, who scored 38 against them last year, to only 2 points at the half and 7 points for the game.
On offense, Edmonson County found success in driving the lane, making the extra pass, and simple ball fakes to put points on the board. They controlled the pace of the game for the most part, holding the Bruins to 5 points under their average.
The Wildcats also out-rebounded Central Hardin 25-24, holding them below their average of 30rpg.
Neither team ever led by more than 5. Edmonson County saw an odd turn of events with seconds winding down in the first half with a 5-point lead as the Bruins hit a three with an official calling a foul away from the ball. They counted the basket and then awarded Central Hardin with a one-and-one. The Bruins made both free throws and tied the score at 27 on a 5-point trip. The score would remain tied at 27 at halftime.
The third quarter was much of the same with both teams trading punches throughout. Wall's three-point play helped the Cats hang onto a 44-43 lead going into the 4th quarter. With the score tied at 52 in the fourth, Wil Alexander hit a big three on the left side to give the Cats a 55-52 lead and they never trailed again. Edmonson County also hit 10 of 11 free throws for the game.
Coach Johnson discussed the gritty performance of his team.
"We've been trying to mix it up with man-to-man and zone on defense, but what you're playing is not as important to how you're playing, playing with a lot of effort," he said. "We've really grown up, though. What I really like about us, is I feel like we're still getting better. These guys have only played with Braxton Highbaugh a year-and-a-half now, and hopefully some of the other teams have peaked out a little bit, but hopefully our best ball is still ahead."
Johnson also bragged on the toughness of the Wildcats during the final couple minutes of the game where they have faltered some this season.
"We didn't come for a moral victory. The team is starting to believe in each other a little bit, playing together, and sharing. So I told them to enjoy it and celebrate like crazy, and it's just too bad the Whistle Stop wasn't open tonight."
Scoring for Edmonson County was led by Braden Wall with 16, Highbaugh and Bates each had 10, Anderson had 9, Bass had 8, and Alexander had 7.
The win is now the Wildcats' second in a row after losing 5 straight. They are now 8-6 on the season and are scheduled to take on Metcalfe County on Thursday night at home in a JV/V match that starts at 6pm.