Braves fend off Demons

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By Matt Birkholtz

The game was not much of a game for the Braves as they defeated county rival Williamstown 87-41 Dec. 18 at Grant County High School.

A big momentum for the Braves (4-3) at the beginning of the game was when junior Trevor Hunt hit three three-pointers to give Grant County an early lead that would never be relinquished.

“Hunt’s play was big,” Braves coach Jim Hicks said. “Anytime you come out and knock some shots down it is a big plus.”

Hicks said that the coaching staff emphasize player development in practice and individual improvement.

The Braves dominated in the amount of shots they took over Williamstown, Hicks stressed that fact after the game.

“Grant County is going to run 10 to 12 guys at opponents for 32 minutes every night,” he said. “That gives us so many more shot attempts and probably the biggest statistic tonight is that we made 10 more shots than Williamstown attempted. A lot of that comes from our defensive pressure and rebounding.”

Sophomore guard Xavier Thomas led all Braves players with 13 points on the evening.

“Xavier is such a special player,” Hicks said. “He has all the God given ability that you can’t teach or coach. He is going to be a special player here before he graduates at Grant County.”

Thomas said his coach pushed him to have a strong game for the Braves.

“Coach has been telling me to penetrate in practice, so that’s what I did,” he said.

Hicks also sees Williamstown potential growing down the road.

“Williamstown is a dangerous team,” he said. “Anytime you got a good ball handler in Jake McKinley, a good shooter in Derrick King and a nice pivot in Colton Simpson, you’re dangerous. Williamstown has everything to be a good basketball team and they are going to get things going and beat some teams this year.”

For Williamstown (0-7), the loss a big one, but the team is beginning to see improvements in ball control.

“We are making baby steps,” Williamstown coach Steve Sigmon said. “The team is still not handling the pressure really well, but we are working on it.”

An issue that the Demons struggled with was calling the offensive plays.

“Williamstown does not have a true point guard,” Sigmon said. “When we call our offense, we seem to get some good shots off, but when we don’t call the offense, the players put their heads down and dribble, turning the ball over.”

Even with the lowering of turnovers, Sigmon said the players were still making bad decisions.

“At the beginning of the third quarter, we don’t run our sideline play and we throw the ball away nonchalant,” he said. “It is stuff like that irritates the heck out of me. We did cut our turnovers down to six in the second half, but those turnovers were not pressure turnovers.”

Junior guard Jake McKinley led all scorers in the game with 17 points.

McKinley still sees a lot of work to be done in order for Williamstown to compete.

“First off, we need to practice harder,” he said. “The team needs to start handling the pressure a lot more.”

The Demons will be practicing all week to get better as a team. Their next game is not until Dec. 28, against Letcher County Central in the Henry County Invitational.

Grant County, after completing play in the Capitol City Invitational in Frankfort, will head to Erlanger to play in the Lloyd Memorial Invitational Dec. 27.