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Taking a 44-43 lead into the fourth quarter, the Grant County Braves knew they would have to execute in the final quarter to come away with a win against cross-county rival Williamstown, especially with the game at the Demons’ gymnasium.
The Braves held on for a 54-50 victory, keeping them undefeated in the district and earning them bragging rights until the team’s match up again on Jan. 30 at GCHS.
“It was a close game, just like all games played at Williamstown. Their fans do a great job, along with the band. The environment is great. It was a hard-fought victory. I’m just glad we came out on top,” GCHS coach Ron Kinmon said.
Cody Kinman started the fourth quarter by driving to the basket and scoring to extend the Braves’ lead. Justin Loomis followed after a Demons’ missed free throw, cutting back door for an open layup to make it 48-43.
WHS senior Zack Anglin worked his way to the basket, drawing a foul and making a free throw to spark the Demons. Patrick Spoonamore hit a three pointer despite fading to his right to cut the lead to one and helped get the crowd back into the game.
The Demons, anxious to keep the momentum on their side, tried to press the Braves, but Grant County broke the pressure and Sean Henry scored.
Wes Philpot kept the game close, making two free throws, but Grant County fought to break the game wide open.
Kody Thompson attacked the basket, scoring while drawing a foul. He missed the free throw, but was picked up when Caleb Kinmon chased down the long rebound, getting the ball back to Thompson who made a free throw after being fouled.
The game became a battle of free throw shooters as Anglin again went to the line, making one free throw to make it 53-50.
Grant County tried to keep the ball away from the Demons but turned the ball over. Fortunately for the Braves, Williamstown missed two opportunities to tie the game and Kinman made a free throw to seal the game for the Braves.
“We decided we wanted to get the ball in the paint and try to score down low,” coach Kinmon said. “We thought that we had a size advantage and we were able to use that in the second half. It was pretty even throughout. There were momentum swings both ways, but we just had one more positive swing than they did.
“Caleb played great tonight,” he said. “He did some good things for us. Justin Loomis sparked us coming off the bench in the second half. I left him out there for a long time and he made hustle plays for us. Kody Thompson did a great job handling the basketball and taking care of it.”
“It’s a tough game and it was what we expected,” Caleb Kinmon said. “We were pretty calm and knew we were going to win. We were confident and we showed we can find a way to win on the road. Different people have stepped up and helped us find a way to win.”
“It was exciting,” Thompson said. “It kept the fans on the edge of their seats the whole game. Overall, I’m pleased with the outcome. It’s another win against Williamstown. We played more as a team in the second half. The adrenaline shook us up a little bit, but we calmed down and focused on what we had to do. It wasn’t easy. They kept fighting the whole time, but that keeps us playing our best because we know we can’t make mistakes or take plays off. We had to bear down and get after it. It was difficult, but it worked out.”
The Demons went 10-23 from the free throw line, a statistic that shows the points the Demons left on the court.
“Both teams played pretty good, but we beat ourselves by missing too many free throws,” Anglin said. “It was such a big game, I’d rather lose by 20 points than lose by four and knowing you beat yourself. It was an awesome atmosphere. I can’t wait for the district tournament. Everyone predicted we would get blown out of the water. In a way, it’s a confidence booster to let everyone know that teams won’t come in and walk all over us.”
“Any time it’s a rival game, you expect a tight game,” Demons coach Stacey May said. “Grant County is a well-coached team. They have some depth on the bench. They came with a game plan and stuck with it. A few bounces went their way down the stretch and they came up with a few loose balls and I think that was the difference in the game. We shot poorly from the foul line. On our end, that was the dagger that killed us.
“This district is wide open and any team can win on any given night,” he said. “We’ve played all three teams and we’ve taken every team down to the wire. It tells our players that we can play with anyone in the district. We get one win in the district tournament and we’re going to the region and that’s our whole goal.”
For Grant County, Davis led the Braves with 15 points, Kinmon and Kinman each scored 11 points, Thompson scored 10 points, Henry scored three points and Jared Livingood and Loomis each scored two points.
For Williamstown, Anglin led the way with 17 points, Spoonamore scored 10 points, Storm Mason scored seven points, Todd Vice and Wes Philpot each scored six points, and Dustin Bryant scored four points.
In the junior varsity matchup, the Braves came out ahead 58-25.
“I thought we had a good team effort,” GCHS coach Joe Utter said. “We played hard and set the tone for the night. Both teams played hard and I was proud of them.”
In the freshman matchup, Williamstown won 61-42.