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While the Grant County boys’ basketball team may have been down against Ludlow, they were never out.
Relying on two seniors and a sophomore, the Braves earned a 61-59 victory, despite being down for most of the second half.
Seniors Kody Thompson and Cody Kinman got Grant County back into the game with timely three pointers that silenced the Ludlow crowd and rejuvenated their team. But the final shot belonged to sophomore Justin Loomis who sent the Panthers home with a loss and put the Braves at 2-0 on the season.
“It was exciting,” Loomis said. “It was all reaction. We worked hard; that’s for sure. Our defense picked it up and our offense hit some shots. It was a big win.”
“The best way to sum it up is our big players made big plays when we had to have them,” coach Ron Kinmon said. “Kody Thompson and Cody Kinman put the ball in the hole down the stretch and Loomis has a really good 15 foot shot.”
Loomis was open thanks to another senior. Jared Livingood drove to the basket, only to have the defense collapse on him, leaving Loomis wide open with 13 seconds left on the clock. Kinmon would have preferred to hold for the last shot, but was glad to see Loomis come through in the clutch of a road game.
“It’s an honor,” Loomis said. “Every practice I work hard and try to earn my spot. To be a sophomore playing in a varsity game is an honor.”
The Braves had hoped to dominate from the tip off, but turned the ball over several times and seemed out of sync. But Grant County’s defense kept them in the ball game early, as Isaiah Wartman blocked a Panther shot and Mike Davis took a charge.
Kinman hit back-to-back three pointers to put the Braves up 8-6 and then came up with another big play as he stole the ball and dished it to Loomis for another early layup. After the first quarter, the Braves led 12-6.
To start the second quarter, Adam Prince used his size and power to fight for position in the paint and scored to build the Braves lead to 14-6. Livingood followed with one of his seven assists, as he hit Davis for an open shot to put the Braves up, but Ludlow fought their way back into the game, as the Braves lead shrunk to two points with a minute left in the second quarter.
Senior Caleb Kinmon came up with two crucial baskets before halftime as he scored in the paint and then stepped out and hit a three pointer, as the Braves headed into the locker room up 27-20 at the half.
The second half didn’t start the way the Braves had hoped as Ludlow tied the game and then took the lead, relying on transition baskets and getting to the free throw line. For the game, the Panthers shot 33 free throws to Grant County’s three. Ludlow took a 39-33 lead into the final quarter.
The Panthers kept adding to their lead and were ahead 48-37 before Thompson and Kinman stepped up for the Braves.
Thompson hit a three to cut the Ludlow lead to eight, while Kinman followed with back-to-back threes to put the score at 53-48. As both teams turned up their intensity, Thompson hit another three to put the Braves behind 54-51 and following two Ludlow free throws, hit another three shot bomb to silence the Ludlow crowd.
“That was the best feeling,” Thompson said. “I would have liked for anyone to go off, but I know we needed those shots. Since I felt my shot, I thought it was my time to step up and hit a few. That crowd was right there in front of us the whole game. The atmosphere was tough, but when the shots started falling, we heard them get quiet. At the end, they got a picture of who we really are.”
Kinman wasn’t only hitting shots for Grant County, but playing tough defense, forcing a turnover on a 10-second backcourt count. He followed that up with another shot that put Grant County ahead for the first time since early in the third quarter.
Following two Ludlow free throws, the Braves lost one of their seniors as Caleb Kinmon fouled out. But Thompson kept his game going and put the Braves up on a backdoor cut. Ludlow tied the game on a free throw, but Thompson fouled out with 28 seconds left.
After two missed free throws, Grant County had the ball and Loomis hit the game-winning shot, giving Grant County the win.
“We’re a strong team when we play,” Loomis said. “We’re a really good team when we play together. We’re going to try and kick some butt every game. I’m confident we’ll win the district this year. Everyone is so talented on our team. If everyone has the will to win, we’ll be good.”
“I couldn’t sit down at the end,” Thompson said. “I didn’t know which way it was going to go. But Loomis hit a big shot and that took a lot of weight off our shoulders. We’ve got a deep bench and a lot of talented players. It can’t be the same guys every night. There will be a lot of guys who have big nights. It’s a good sign and I’m glad that we did come back to win. It shows that we can keep our composure and not give up. When you keep fighting, there’s always the opportunity for the chance to win.”
Thompson had 24 points, Kinman has 16 points and seven assists, Loomis had seven points, Kinmon had five points and eight rebounds, Livingood had four points, Davis had three points and Prince had two points.
Braves start season with win over Harrison
The Grant County High School boys’ basketball team worked for months to prepare for their season. They worked for so long that they were itching to play someone other than their teammates.
They took advantage of the opportunity in their first game against Harrison County, coming away with a 65-56 win.
“I was really happy with our ball movement,” coach Ron Kinmon said. “I thought we played as a team and we had lots of guys contribute.”
The Braves won, relying on a team effort where eight players scored. The Braves leaned on senior Caleb Kinmon in the first half, when he kept the game close by making play after play.
“I thought I had to as a senior,” Caleb Kinmon said. “All of our seniors can step up and lead this season, but I thought I had to set the example.”
The Braves also got a big game from Cody Kinman, who came off the bench and lead the team with 17 points. Kinman comes off the bench despite starting last year, but doesn’t have a problem with it because he knows he can only work to help the team.
“It’s my role,” Kinman said. “It’s part of being on the team. I’ve been waiting for two months to play.”
“Cody did a great job of not pouting or sulking,” Ron Kinmon said. “He came in and performed.
Caleb Kinmon had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Thompson had 12 points, Davis had seven points and eight rebounds, Prince had five rebounds, Wartman had three points, Joe Soden had three points and Livingood had two points.