Darren Doyle, story: Moriah Peterson, photos:
Much like the earlier Lady Cats' game, the Wildcats faced an emotional night in the last home game of the 2017-18 season, and the last ever at ECHS for eight Edmonson County seniors.
Although things looked bleak for the Cats early, Edmonson County amped up their defensive pressure and hit some big shots late in the game to carry them back from a double-digit deficit, which put them on the smiling side of the scoreboard in a 76-73 win over McLean County.
The Wildcats got of to a rocky start and McLean County pounced early with the Cougars connecting on early 3's, while EC struggled to make baskets; some layups and open jumpers.
The Wildcats trailed 21-8 at the start of the second quarter but a 24-11 run from Edmonson County evened things up as sophomore Dalton Decker's three pointer hit the bottom of the net seconds before the halftime buzzer. The score was tied 32-all at the half.
Senior Brayden Carey helped start things in the third with a three-pointer that gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game. Each team traded punches throughout the quarter when McLean rattled off 5 unanswered points to take a 47-44 lead. Senior Dylan Elmore hit back-to-back threes as the quarter ended, which allowed the Wildcats to regain the lead at 50-37 going into the fourth.
It was much of the same in the fourth quarter with Edmonson County staying in front, but an 8-1 run by McLean tied the score at 67 with two minutes to go.
On the next Wildcat possession, Tucker Cole drove the lane, drew the foul, and made the basket. After a quick McLean timeout, Cole nailed the free throw to put the Cats up 70-67 with 1:12 to play.
McLean County was forced to foul during the final minute and Edmonson County hit 6 of 8 free throws to go on to win. Free throws have been a sore spot as of late for the Wildcats but the team made 25/33 last night for a 76% team number.
Coach Bart Weaver discussed the change in the Wildcats after the rough first quarter that appeared as though Cat fans were headed for a blowout loss.
"When you find a group that meshes well with the substitutions Coach (Mac) made right there when we were down 15, I hate to single names out, but there were three or four people that entered the ballgame and we got back just like that," he said.
Weaver also said he thought it was a combination of fresh bench players that gave great minutes and energy, and the energy spread to the right places, especially on defense.
"Our kids played hard, man," he said. "That's something this group of seniors have done pretty much all their careers, is that half-court trap. They take a lot of pride in it, even back when they were freshmen and JV players. It's something they feel comfortable with and I think it was the biggest difference."
Edmonson County had three players in double figures and senior Tucker Cole had 15 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds. Logan Lindsey led the Cats with 23 points and 6 rebounds and Dylan Elmore nailed 4-three pointers for 12 points.
Also contributing was Dalton Decker with 9 points, J.T. Vincent had 6, Brayden Carey had 5, and Ryan Lindsey, Logan Minton, and Mason Pierce each had 2 points.
The Wildcats are now 9-19 on the season and are set to take on Greenwood on the road Friday night immediately after the girls' game, which is set for a 6pm tip.