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Before the season started, GCHS coach Ron Kinmon believed that Simon Kenton was the team to beat in the district.
With a 55-47 win on Dec. 12, the Braves did just that.
“It’s nice because it was a district win,” Kinmon said. “The team played extremely well. The first half we played a little nervous, but we settled down and played a great second half.”
The game was back and forth from the beginning, as Simon Kenton scored first, but Caleb Kinmon hit a three pointer to take the lead.
The Pioneers retook their lead and led 8-3 before Kody Thompson came up with a loose ball and put up a floater to cut the lead to three.
But on their next trip down the floor, Simon Kenton came up with a three-point play, as a Pioneer was fouled, but made his shot and the subsequent free throw. Cody Kinman put the Braves back on the scoreboard with a free throw.
Isaiah Wartman stepped up on defense with a powerful block, but Simon Kenton scored again, but Wartman closed the gap, scoring in transition. The Braves ended the first quarter down 13-9.
Kinman connected with Kinmon for a basket, but Simon Kenton answered with a three pointer. Jared Livingood scored to cut the lead to three, but the Pioneers added three points with a free throw and a bucket off an inbounds play to go ahead 19-13.
Livingood drove to the basket and when the defense collapsed on him, he dished the ball to Mike Davis for an open shot. Kinman then grabbed a rebound on defense and drove the length of the floor, hitting a shot to make the score 19-17.
Simon Kenton then went on a run, scoring 10 straight points before Adam Prince added a basket for the Braves. Kinman added another score before the half to make the score 31-21.
Down 10, the Braves had to take control of the game by cutting down on their turnovers and getting after rebounds.
“After halftime, I knew we had to bounce back and we stepped our game up,” Wartman said. “We had too many turnovers and they were winning on rebounds. Coach told us to step up the defensive intensity.”
“I told the guys that we had to continue playing solid defense and play with more confidence on offense,” coach Kinmon said.
The Braves played inspired defense in the third quarter, holding Simon Kenton scoreless for four minutes. The Braves cut the Pioneers lead to two as Davis, Thompson and Wartman scored to put the score at 31-29 before Simon Kenton scored again.
Grant County had taken control of the momentum, though, and kept the game close with the Braves trailing 39-36 heading into the fourth quarter, where Wartman stepped up to help the Braves come away with a district win.
Wartman started the final quarter with a quick score and followed that up with another basket to put the Braves ahead. Simon Kenton missed an opportunity to retake the lead, but settled for a tie as they could only connect on one free throw.
Wartman scored again, hitting a long two pointer. Following two Pioneer free throws, Wartman scored again off an assist from Kinman. Also playing tough defense, Wartman came up with a big block.
Thompson scored off an inbounds play and then scored again, but Simon Kenton came down the floor for a basket that cut Grant County’s lead to 48-45.
Wartman drew a charge on defense and Thompson scored again. Trailing 50-45, Simon Kenton started to foul to try and get back in the game, but came up short as the Braves won 55-47.
In the fourth quarter, Wartman scored 11 of his 19 points.
“I tried to go hard the entire game, but being down by 10, I knew I had to step my game up,” Wartman said. “District-wise, I believe that we showed we are the top team in the district and one of the better teams in the region. It feels like we’ve come a long ways since last year. We had a mediocre season last year and we haven’t been 5-0 for a while.”
“It’s a good feeling,” Livingood said. “Since Simon Kenton came into our district, we hadn’t beaten them and to get that win, it feels pretty good to know we’re number one in the district. The second half, our defense is what put the game away.”
The Braves forced 19 turnovers in the game and only allowed Simon Kenton to score 16 points in the second half.
“We’ve talked about defense all year,” coach Kinmon said. “It’s going to determine how successful we will be and if we will win games.”
Wartman lead the Braves with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Thompson scored 15 points, Kinmon scored seven points and grabbed six rebound, Kinman had seven points, seven rebounds and eight assists, Davis had four points, Livingood had two points and Prince scored two points.
Braves reach 5-0 with wins over Bourbon and South Oldham
On Dec. 10, the Braves hosted Bourbon County, earning their third win behind senior Caleb Kinmon 63-53.
“I thought that we came out ready to play and focused, but we hit a little bit of a lull,” coach Kinmon said. “We did a good job of closing the game out in the fourth quarter.”
Kinmon scored 25 points and had five steals, Thompson scored 14 points, Livingood scored 10 points and had five assists, Sean Henry scored seven points, Kinman scored five points and Davis scored two points.
Following their win over Simon Kenton, the Braves had to come back the next day and play at South Oldham. They came away with a 77-69 win.
“We started sluggish, but we played really well in the third quarter (when the Braves outscored the Dragons 28-12),” coach Kinmon said. “I though the biggest thing was beating good teams back-to-back and our players were able to focus and play two good games. Mike Davis played great. He gives us a low post threat and he’s been patient. He did a great job.”
Kinman lead the Braves with 19 points, Thompson scored 18 along with 10 rebound and five assists, Davis scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Henry scored seven points, Wartman scored six points, Kinmon scored four points, Joe Soden scored three points, Livingood scored two points and Prince scored one point.