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Grant County defeats Williamstown

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By Ryan Naus

Their rivalry will renew in 2010, but Grant County and Williamstown’s boys’ basketball teams got a taste of what to expect.

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The two teams faced off in their first game of the Forcht Bank/Dry Ridge Toyota Invitational and Grant County came out on top, winning 70-64 on Dec. 19.

“Offensively, we did some decent things, in the first half especially,” GCHS coach Ron Kinmon said. “I didn’t like the way we closed out the game, but it’s a victory and we’re happy that we won.”

“They killed us on the boards and that was the difference in the game,” WHS coach Stacey May said. “We can’t give a team 17 offensive rebounds and expect to compete. Grant’s well coached and Ron did a great job. We’re young and we’re trying to get there.”

Both teams battled back and forth in the first quarter, matching basket for basket as Williamstown held a 21-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Grant County started the second quarter on an offensive tear and took the lead on a three-pointer by junior Zach Wright. The Braves took a 10-point lead before May called a timeout to settle his team. Williamstown came out of the timeout firing on all cylinders as eighth grader Stephen Martin hit two three-pointers to make it 37-34.

Senior Mike Davis ended the Demons streak with a basket and the Braves led 39-34 at the half.

Grant County came out of the locker room on fire, scoring 12 straight points as junior Josh Blackburn scored seven points. Sophomore Isaac Alger put the Demons on the scoreboard in the second half with a layup to make it 51-36.

The Demons ended the third quarter with two three-pointers after a basket by GCHS senior Isaiah Wartman to make it 53-42.

Williamstown cut the lead to three points part way through the final quarter, but that was as close as they would come as Grant County made their free throws in the final minutes to seal their 70-64 win.

“We had them down, but we got a little relaxed in the fourth quarter,” Davis said. “That’s happened to us a couple times this year. We have to keep our focus.”

“It’s always nice to beat your cross-town rival, but it’s great to win the first game in our tournament,” Wartman said. “We played well, but our defensive intensity went down and that’s how they got back in the game. We have to practice our defensive intensity more and it will get better.”

The game at home was the first for Grant County since their season opener on Dec. 4 and the Braves were pleased to start their tournament with a win.

“We still have the opportunity to play for the championship of our tournament because we won,” Kinmon said. “We’ve got to continue to work to get better and not make the same mistakes. I feel like we have to get better defensively and until we do that, we’re not going to win consistently.”

The Demons are still looking for their first win, but have had four losses that were by six points or less.

“Losing these games close, I think we’re going to get one shortly,” WHS senior Storm Mason said. “It’s going to be fun when we do.”

While they came away with a loss, the Demons are still learning what they are capable of and plan to be ready when they face Grant County again on Jan. 5.

“They beat us on the boards,” senior Eric White said. “I think we need to keep playing with confidence. We’re going to keep trying and we’ve got to out-scrap teams. We just have to rebound better.”