Braves defeat Walton-Verona on the road

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By Ryan Naus

Against Walton-Verona, the Grant County Braves were looking to take hold of first place in the district.

With a 57-53 win on the road, the Braves did just that.

Now 3-0 in the district and 12-4 overall, Grant County is now in control of their district seed.

“It was another tough district game,” coach Ron Kinmon said. “Playing at Walton is always a difficult task and I thought we did a good job of finding a way to win the game. Obviously, you want to win all your district games, if possible. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re only halfway through the district seedings and as close as all the games have been, I’m sure when the district tournament rolls around, all of the games are going to be close.”

Isaiah Wartman scored off the tip for Grant County, but the first quarter was back and forth as the teams ended the first quarter tied 10-10. The Bearcats couldn’t capitalize on a Grant County turnover in the final 10 seconds of the quarter, squandering a chance to take a lead into the second quarter.

Walton-Verona started the second quarter on a run, taking an 18-13 lead before the Braves roared back with baskets by Caleb Kinmon, Mike Davis and Cody Kinman to take a 24-21 lead. Wartman and Kody Thompson finished off the half with consecutive scores to make it 28-21 at the end of the half.

The Bearcats wouldn’t give up in the second half, eventually tying the game before taking the lead with three pointer. The Braves retook the lead with a three from Kinman and a steal and score by Thompson, but Walton-Verona hit another three before the end of the quarter for a 43-41 lead.

The Braves have learned to execute in the fourth quarter of close games, coming away with come from behind wins against Ludlow and Simon Kenton. They focused in the fourth quarter, taking advantage of their scoring opportunities and making free throws when it counted.

Grant County did not get to the free throw line in the second half until the fourth quarter, but made Walton-Verona pay by hitting 10 of 14 in the final quarter. The Braves also stepped it up on defense, coming away with several stops and forcing turnovers that kept Walton-Verona from tying the game late.

“We’ve played well and up to a point, we can continue to get better,” coach Kinmon said. “Our seniors have stepped up and made plays in crucial situations and found ways to win games. I’ve always said that’s a sign of a senior dominated team. We have different guys stepping up each night and hopefully we can continue to do that and move forward.”

“It wasn’t our best game, but we came out and showed we can have an off-night and still beat a good district team,” Davis said. “It’s a big win that puts us at 3-0 and gives us a good chance to be the number one seed in the district. It’s getting us ready for March when the tournament starts. Everyone is a lot more comfortable and everyone knows their roles. Everything is starting to come together.”