Braves get set for final stretch

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By Matt Birkholtz

With the season winding down for high school basketball, Grant County coach Jim Hicks is concentrating on keeping his players healthy.

“The big thing, like any other coach is that they want to stay healthy and not get anyone injured,” he said. “The focal point is healthy and continue to improve offensively and defensively.”

The Braves play two games this week at home, Carroll County on Feb. 4 and Owen County on Feb. 5.

Grant County lost to Owen County Jan. 17 by a score of 61-49 and Hicks said that his team should have won that game because they took 30 more shots than the Rebels.

“We are still a work in progress offensively,” he said. “The boys need to work on better shot selection and be more patient and not force shots. If we can continue to improve on that, we are going to be a tough team come tournament time.”

Grant County lost to Mason County 66-44  on Jan. 29. The Braves had a tough time getting inside, because of 6’ 8”  Mason County senior forward Treg Setty. Setty is a Division I recruit for Southern Illinois University.

“We tried to prepare for their size, but they are all bigger than us and Setty was tough and we just couldn’t box them out,” Trevor Hunt, a junior guard, said. Hunt was the leading scorer for the Braves with 19 points.

Hunt said the main goal for the Braves for the district tournament is to get a win and advance to regionals.

The Braves lone senior is Josh Blackburn. Bkackburn is respected by his teammates.

“It’s been pretty fun playing with Josh,” Hunt said. “He is not selfish on the floor and he is a good player and plays hard for us. He makes a good leader for this team.”

In reflection, Blackburn said that he couldn’t imagine being in another place than Grant County.

“I am thankful I have gotten to play all four years,” he said. “It is kind of sad that everyone I have played with threw in the towel already, but I really spend a lot of time with the younger players and I hope they come back and play well.”

Tip-off for both games are set for 7:30 p.m. and homecoming is on Feb. 4 between the boys and girls game. The Feb. 5 game with Owen County will be the final Coaches vs. Cancer night of the season. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students, with $1  being donated to the Grant County Relay For Life.