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For a moment, the Grant County High School gym was silent.
Shelby County had the ball with 5.4 seconds left and were down 62-60. They took the ball out and drove to the left of the paint, hoping for a foul call or a chance at a decent shot. The guard put the shot up and as it floated skyward, silence overtook the gym.
That silence was broken by the clank of the ball off the rim and the excited shouting.
“I’m really excited with the way the boys played,” coach Ron Kinmon said. “As a team, that’s the best we’ve passed the basketball in two or three weeks.”
The Braves were ahead 58-45 partway through the fourth quarter and were able to hold on for the 62-60 win.
“I believe we were all more focused than we have been the past couple games,” Sean Henry said. “There was a lot more intensity on the floor. Everybody came out and was ready to play. They say that Shelby County was the second team in the region and we haven’t beaten them since I’ve been in school. It’s a big win.”
The Braves started the game by pushing the ball the length of the court and using their athleticism to build a 20-15 lead after the first quarter and a 29-14 lead at the half.
“We like to play an up-tempo game and not get stuck in a half court situation,” Kinmon said. “We like to play fast and when you’re playing athletic teams like Shelby County, you get to play fast. We enjoyed that tempo.”
As the teams traded scores to start the second half, Grant County used clutch three pointers from Jared Livingood to stretch their lead to 10 points, leading 45-35 heading into the final quarter.
Shelby County went on a run to make it 47-43, but Grant County rebounded to make it 55-45. Shelby County was assessed a technical foul when a player slapped the backboard. The Rockets frustration showed, but they eventually pulled within a basket of taking the lead after scoring on a second effort to make it 61-60.
Kody Thompson made a free throw to push the lead to two points before Shelby County’s final possession.
“We want to close out strong,” Kinmon said. “As a senior team, we found a way to win even though we struggled from the free throw line. We went through a stretch midway through the fourth quarter where we quit getting stops and they made a little bit of a run and they got the game close. But in the end, we got two or three stops in a row. It’s a sign of a good team to find a way to close it out.”
“Our defense looked alright, but we’ve got to find ways to close the games out,” Adam Prince said. “It’s huge. It’s a statement game. We should have beat Simon Kenton and this was a huge game. We played as a team and want to keep getting better.”
Kinmon is proud of his team for the way their defense stepped up when it mattered most.
“I think it’s big because we always talk about offense can win games, but ultimately defense wins championships,” Kinmon said. “You have to be able to get stops when you need to.”
Kinmon believes that the win was due to a total team effort, with strong plays from his starters and the players that came off the bench.
“I can’t say enough about Caleb Kinmon,” coach Kinmon said. “He was arguably the best player on the floor last night. Kody Thompson and Jared Livingood played well. You can’t say enough about Mike Davis and Adam Prince in the post. If you look across the stat line, sometimes Sean Henry’s stats don’t stand out. He’s provided excellent leadership this year, has accepted coming off the bench and he never does anything to hurt us. All in all, it was a good team performance.”