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With the start of a new year, an old rivalry will once again begin.
On Jan. 5, the Grant County girls’ basketball team will play at Williamstown, with both teams looking to take the first game of the rivalry this season.
Last season, the girls’ split the season series with each team winning on their home court.
“Our expectations are to win,” GCHS senior Candace Gorby said. “They’re going to have a majority of their fans and it will be interesting to see how we handle it. We have to execute. We need to start making shots. That’s our biggest problem. Hitting our free throws is a focus. That’s what games against Williamstown come down to.”
“We’re going to be prepared for it, just like they will,” Williamstown senior Jaclyn Stith said. “A win would tell us how we would do in district and stay away from Simon Kenton in the first round.”
Each team is trying to avoid the fourth seed in the district and facing Simon Kenton, who have beat both teams already this season.
The Lady Braves and Lady Demons are both coming from the Grant County Invitational, playing their holiday games at home. Williamstown went 2-2, winning their final two games. Grant County earned three wins and a spot in the championship before it was delayed because of weather.
“We expect to play hard and play well,” GCHS coach Darrell Guffey said. “Whoever makes the plays down the stretch will have the best chance to win. We’re going to have to establish our inside game and attack the offensive glass. We’ve gotten better at it, but we need to continue getting better at it.”
“Our expectations are to win,” Lady Demons coach Mark Wilhoit said. “It’s a key district game. We’re going in to win it. We have to get better defensively. Our defense is a work in progress. They have some size and we’ll have to be able to defend it. Their team is a lot like ours. We have to play solid team defense and not let anyone have a career game against us.”
This season, the Lady Demons have relied on seniors Stith, Amber Vance and Melissa Snow, along with sophomores Chelsea West and Tori Wilhoit. Wilhoit missed the final three games of the Grant County Invitational with a sprained ankle but is expected to return for the rivalry game. The Lady Demons are 6-5 on the season.
Grant County has relied on seniors Gorby and Shayna Lockard, along with juniors Amber Cope and Dawn Plunkett, sophomore Tyanna Workman and freshman Morgan McClure. The Lady Braves have earned a 5-5 record with their recent winning streak.
Boys teams set to
play on Jan. 6
On Jan. 6, Grant County and Williamstown will meet again when the boys’ teams take the court.
Last year, the Braves won both games.
The game is significant because it helps determine district seeding, but it’s also for bragging rights.
“It’s the game we have to win all the time,” GCHS senior Sean Henry said. “We expect to win and as long as we do what we’re capable of doing, we have the ability to beat anyone. It’s one of those games that is indescribable. We have to win because they are our rivals.”
“We are going to play hard for a win,” Williamstown senior Patrick Spoonamore said. “It’s been back and forth since our eighth grade year against them. This senior group has battled back and forth. It’s going to come down to whoever has the most heart.”
Grant County has already earned a district win this season, defeating Simon Kenton, who had been the team to beat in the district. Williamstown fell to Walton in the last minute earlier in the season, but a win against Grant County would give the Demons the chance to go to 1-1 in the district.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Braves coach Ron Kinmon said. “It’s a lot of fun to be a part of the cross-town rivalry. It’s important because of the district seeding, but also for county pride. We have to continue to move the basketball and share the ball with each other. We want to continue getting better throughout the season as we prepare for the district tournament. This game will help us prepare because of the environment with the full house and the loud cheering sections.”
“It’s always fun for the players as far as the rivalry game,” Demons coach Stacey May said. “We’re hoping for a big crowd. We want to compete with them. You can typically throw the records out and who’s got the most talent doesn’t matter. It will be close to the wire and depend on who executes in the fourth quarter. There are only a few games I don’t root for Grant County and that’s when they play us. They’re top-notch kids. But we’re a lot more confident than we were last year. We’ve got good chemistry this year. We’ll be ready to play.”
The Braves rely on their six seniors, Sean Henry, Cody Kinman, Caleb Kinmon, Jared Livingood, Joe Soden and Kody Thompson. Junior Mike Davis has stepped up his play the past several games and junior Isaiah Wartman has helped the Braves earn an 8-3 record.
The Demons get solid play from seniors Spoonamore, Zack Anglin, Dustin Bryant and Wes Philpot, who have all lead the Demons at one time or another this season. Juniors Storm Mason, Todd Vice and Eric White have contributed to help Williamstown this season to a 5-3 record.