Joseph Barkoff, story and photos:
The Butler County Bears (15-7) are no joke at 7-0 in their Region and 5-0 in District play in Kentucky High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball and they brought their smooth, fast-paced style of play to Brownsville to meet their host Edmonson County Wildcats (10-13, 3-5, 2-4) Friday, February 9th.
Butler County is not flashy. They are aggressive. They are fast. When they pull away it is almost like the Novocain reference from the movie “Remember the Titans” because it is so smooth and without flash.
It was 11-0 in favor of the Bears by the time three minutes had almost ticked off the clock in the first quarter before Edmonson County senior shooting guard Will Alexander drove from his top right of the box through the paint with an underhanded scoop off the backboard for their first points of the game.
The first quarter ended with freshman point guard Braden Wright getting the ball with :06 seconds left on the inbound. With a spin move reminiscent of Barry Sanders spinning off a tackler to gain momentum, he got to the 3-point line and shot with less than two seconds remaining.
It bounced off the glass, but into the hands of a leaping Wildcats senior power forward Layne Ashley for a perfect put back as time expired.
Wildcats were down 28-12.
Despite battling back to within 10 points a handful of times, the Wildcats could not break the strangle hold the Bears applied and by the end of the half it was 50-32 in favor of the Bears.
“To me that team is the best team in the region,” Wildcats head coach Trey Tinsley said after the game on the Edmonson Voice Live broadcast.
Again, there was not an issue of Wildcats effort. They were shooting 56 percent from the field. Butler County was shooting 71 percent, creating a hill that turned out too difficult for the Wildcats to climb.
“We know we got to cut down on turnovers and we gotta rebound the ball better, but man, they shot the ball well,” Tinsley said.
The Bears are a “top 10 or top 15” team in Kentucky, Tinsley said.
After 24 minutes of play, at the end of the third quarter it was 71-50 in favor of the Bears over the Wildcats.
By the end of the fourth, despite a break of character in a single-minded pursuit of scoring into the triple digits, the Bears failed in their victory of 97-68 over host Wildcats.
“We hope to see them down the road,” Tinsley said. “We just have to keep working, keep competing, keep getting better.”
What do you tell your team after a loss like that, Edmonson Voice broadcaster Darren Doyle asked Tinsley in the post-game show.
Both coaches and announcers agreed there was no lack of effort on the Wildcats part.
Focus on the positives, Tinsley said.
He was proud of how they competed and thought they shot the ball well, he said.
Looking forward to three of the last four games at home, they want to finish the season out strong, Tinsley said.
Alexander had 25 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists while shooting 4 for 4 from the free-throw line and connecting on five 3-pointers.
Also in double digits scoring was sophomore shooting guard Tyler Wilson with 10 points, junior power forward Wyatt Gravil had 10 points with 5 rebounds and junior shooting guard Kollin Doyle had 10 points with 3 rebounds.
Next the Wildcats travel to play Marion County Tuesday Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. before beginning their final three-game, final games of the season stand Friday Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. against region rival Hancock County.