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The Grant County Braves basketball team knew that their senior night game against Lloyd Memorial would not be easy.
The two teams had played each other earlier in the season during the Lloyd Memorial Invitational, with the Braves earning a 64-51 win.
The Braves knew that the Juggernauts would come into their gym looking for revenge. But Grant County sent Lloyd Memorial home with a 43-37 loss after taking control late in the game.
“We found a way to win,” senior Sean Henry said. “It’s always great to get a win on senior night. It means a lot to all of us. It was a great feeling. I love being with these boys, playing with them since seventh grade. It’s a lot of fun remembering all the good times we’ve had.”
Kody Thompson started the game with a tip-in, running back up the court as a smile took over his face. Thompson would go on to score eight points in the first quarter to keep the Braves in the game, trailing 16-14 after the first quarter.
The game was physical in the paint, as elbows and arms flew whenever the post players matched up down low. The game continued to be played at a frenetic pace as both teams went back and forth at each other, but neither team was able to fully capitalize on their scoring opportunities. The teams ended the first half with the Juggernauts holding a 21-19 lead.
Lloyd Memorial scored three times to start the second half, extending their lead to 27-19 before Jared Livingood drained a three pointer.
Isaiah Wartman connected with Thompson for an easy layup before Livingood rattled in another three pointer to tie the game 27-27.
The Juggernauts retook the lead with a three pointer and some made free throws, as they took a 33-31 lead into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter started with a missed dunk by a Lloyd Memorial player, which energized the Grant County crowd before Thompson poured in a floater to tie the game.
The teams went after each other, trading baskets before Kinmon gave the Braves their first lead since early in the game with a basket and a free throw. Justin Loomis added to the lead with a steal and a score to make it 38-35.
The Braves started to move the ball well against the Juggernauts defense, as every player touched the ball before Henry found an open Livingood under the basket for a score.
The Braves didn’t make all of their free throws down the stretch, but they made enough to hold on for a 43-37 victory.
“We talk all the time about playing for the school and the county,” coach Kinmon said. “Senior night is for the seniors and it’s nice they get to enjoy the win. I think this game will help us for the district tournament. Teams know what you’re doing this time of the year. Games start to get grinded out. You have to get one score and one stop every time down the floor. We have to maximize our opportunities.”
“It was a good win going into the district tournament,” Caleb Kinmon said. “The key was grinding the game out. It was pretty physical. We’ll have to be used to that when the postseason starts.”
The Braves play Walton-Verona at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the first round of the district tournament at Williamstown High School.