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No matter how big a lead, the Grant County-Williamstown rivalry always seems to come down to the final few minutes.
Grant County, leading by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, held on for a 78-69 victory after Williamstown cut their lead to four. The Braves won both games of the regular season rivalry.
“It was another close contest, just like always with Williamstown,” GCHS coach Ron Kinmon said. “Both teams played hard and both teams did a lot of good things. I was a little disappointed with our decision making down the stretch. I thought we quit doing what was working when we built the lead and got away from it and relaxed. They did a good job of continuing to play and didn’t give up.”
To start the game, neither team seemed to show any signs of rust from having their routines interrupted by the weather. Demon Zack Anglin started the scoring with a three pointer, but Grant County answered with a Caleb Kinmon reverse layup for a basket.
After a Grant County free throw tied the game, Mike Davis hustled down the court for a layup to put the Braves ahead 5-3.
Kody Thompson added to the Braves lead by taking the ball end-to-end for a layup. Anglin responded with two free throws, before Isaiah Wartman rose above two defenders for a score.
Both teams traded baskets before Anglin scored off glass for an 11-9 lead. Kinmon hit a three pointer to retake the lead but Anglin pushed the ball for a full-court outlet pass that led to a layup and a 13-12 Demon lead after the first quarter.
Adam Prince came off the bench to lead the Braves in scoring and scored off a cut to the basket, but Eric White scored for the Demons off of an offensive rebound to make it 15-14 for the Demons.
Prince made two free throws and Davis scored again before Anglin pulled up for a score. Todd Vice hit two free throws for a 19-18 Demons lead before Jared Livingood drained a three pointer to retake the lead for Grant County.
Vice came up with a defensive stop on Grant County’s next possession, blocking a shot towards Patrick Spoonamore, who raced down the court for a layup.
Livingood answered with a drive of his own, dishing the ball to Davis who got an open layup after Livingood’s penetration to give Grant County a 23-21 lead.
Both teams matched each other score for score with Williamstown seizing a 33-30 lead heading into the half.
Livingood started the second half with a three to immediately tie the game, but Vice made two free throws to continue the back and forth game.
Williamstown held the lead until back-to-back baskets by Cody Kinman and Justin Loomis gave Grant County a 39-38 lead. Spoonamore pushed the ball up the court for a layup before Prince started a Grant County run with a three pointer to take a 42-40 lead.
The Braves ended the quarter on an 11-0 streak to take a 50-40 lead into the final quarter.
The teams traded three pointers to start the fourth quarter, as Prince and Spoonamore each drilled a long-range bucket. But Grant County was ahead 64-51 before Williamstown started to whittle away at their lead. The Demons got as close as 73-69 before Grant County closed the game with five straight free throws to put the game away with the final score of 78-69.
“I thought we did an excellent job of executing and running our plays at the end of the third quarter,” coach Kinmon said. “I thought that was the best three or four minute segment we’ve had in the past couple weeks. Scoring 78 points is a good thing. It means we were efficient offensively and passed the ball well. I was a little disappointed with our defense, but we’re going to take what we did right and break down what we did wrong.”
“I think we came out ready to play and prepared to play our county rival,” Livingood said. “We might face them again in districts, so we’ve got to be ready to play them again. Our offensive play is a lot better, but our defense still needs work. Defense wins ballgames and we’ll start preparing for districts.”
“We need to do a better job closing games out,” Prince said. “They played us hard, but we need to do better. We’ve got to keep getting better defensively.”
For Williamstown, they are preparing for the district tournament with the knowledge that they have been in every district game.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Demons coach Stacey May said. “They beat us in the third quarter and that was the difference in the game. It came back to haunt us. It’s always tough to beat them here, but the district isn’t here. We have to put two halves together. We were up both games at halftime, but the third quarter has hurt us both games. It’s going to come down to the third quarter in the districts.”
“The district game is going to matter more,” Spoonamore said. “We win one there and we’re going to the region tournament. We have to improve our second half. We’ll take the games up until the districts to work on that.”
For Grant County, Prince led with 16 points, Thompson scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Kinman scored 11 points, Davis scored 10 point, Loomis scored nine points, Kinmon scored seven points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Livingood scored seven points and Wartman scored four points.
For Williamstown, Anglin led all scorers with 25 points, Spoonamore scored 22 points, Vice scored 12 points and grabbed 14 points, Wes Philpot scored four points, Dustin Bryant scored two points, Storm Mason scored two points and White scored two points.