By David Sharp
Knox County got off to a good start in their November 30 season opener at Paris. The Eagles jumped out to an early 10-5 lead and paced the board by as many as 13 points during the second half.
Paris (0-2) battled back in a physical game. A furious last minute rally came up two points short and Knox County came away with the 60-58 victory. Daniel McMahon tossed in 21 Knox County points. Dennis Dent scored 13 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. McMahon and Dent finished the game on the sideline.
The Coyotes have been one of the top outside shooting clubs in the area for the past two seasons. Paris launched long shots throughout the night. Many of the scoring attempts missed the mark.
The result was 52 Knox County rebounds. Paris players were whistled for 33 personal fouls battling the larger Knox County front line for the basketball.
Knox County missed their share of easy shots, especially in the first quarter. Paris led by an 18-14 margin after the first eight minutes of play. The Coyotes launched numerous shots during the second quarter, but only connected on three field goals.
The contest took a physical turn and continued down that road until the last minute. After a Knox County rebounder was roughed up with no foul called, Knox County coach Jesse Crawford was assessed a technical foul.
The Eagles answered the challenge and outscored Paris 17-8 during the period and led 31-26 at intermission. The Eagles scored 11 seconds quarter points from the free throw line.
Daniel McMahon tossed in a Knox County three pointer for a 37-26 lead with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter. Cory Putnam sank a Coyote three, trimming the Knox County lead to 37-31 at the 3:11 mark of the third period.
Sophomore Cody Morgenstern came off the bench and contributed five key second half points. Morgenstern had a put back basket with ten seconds to play in the third quarter for a 44-33 KCHS lead.
Mitchel Penn scored off a Zach Parrish feed 40 seconds into the fourth quartet for a 46-35 Eagle lead. Daniel McMahon found Dennis Dent open resulting in a three point play and a 49-36 lead with 5:32 showing on the fourth quarter clock.
Paris standout Joe Gilliam uncharacteristically missed two free throws ten seconds later. Joe Gilliam, Dennis Dent, and Cory Shultz had four fouls each heading into the final five minutes of the contest. Knox County led by 13 points.
Jon Gilliam started the anticipated Coyote comeback with a converted steal at the 4:20 mark of the fourth quarter. Derek Vanlandingham did the same for Paris 30 seconds later. The Coyotes reeled off a 9-2 run and pulled within a 51-45 score with 3:50 to play in regulation time.
Zach Parrish and Cory Shultz sank Knox County free throws extending the KC lead to 53-45 with 3:24 showing on the clock. Knox County senior Daniel McMahon suffered an eye injury during one of the numerous scrums and was unable to play the final minutes.
Paris started taking the ball at the Eagle defense late in the game. Jon Gilliam drove the lane for a three point play. Dennis Dent fouled out on the play. Knox County clung to a 53-48 lead with 2:45 remaining in the game.
Seniors Zach Parrish and Ethan Hustead stepped up and sank two free throws each, extending the lead to 57-49 with 1:18 to play. Zach Parrish sank another Eagle free throw with 45.7 seconds remaining. William Ransdell answered with a driving lay-up.
Cory Shultz missed a free throw with 38 seconds left, and sank a free throw at the 24 second mark for a 59-51 Knox County lead. Both teams missed numerous fourth quarter free throws. Paris was far from beaten given their explosive offense.
Jon Gilliam nailed a three pointer with eight seconds showing on the clock, pulling the Coyotes within a 59-56 deficit. Zach Parrish sank a Knox County free throw extending the lead to 60-56 with 7.1 seconds to play in the game. Paris forward Garrett Thomas scored at the buzzer. The horn sounded, closing the thrilling fourth quarter with Knox County on top of a 60-58 final score.
Paris sank only four of 13 fourth quarter free throws, and still outscored the Eagles 25-16 in the fourth quarter. Knox County went 10-25 at the charity stripe in the fourth period. Knox County sank 23 of 43 free throws during the contest. The Eagles were whistled for 22 personal fouls, for a total of 55 personal fouls called on both sides along with a technical foul on Knox County.
The final entry in the MSHSAA record book is 57 total fouls, set by Bell City and Jefferson in the 2006 Class 1 state championship game. The Eagles sank 14 field goals and Paris connected on 18. The teams sank three home run balls each. Paris went 13 of 30 from the charity stripe.
Jon Gilliam tossed 20 Paris points. William Ransdell was in double figures with 12 Coyote points. Knox County was able to hold Paris standout Joe Gilliam to seven points and Derek Vanlandingham to four points.
Knox County pulled down 21 offensive rebounds and posted a total of 52 rebounds on the night. The Eagle strength program paid dividends, wrestling over 100 rebounds in both games.
Knox County turned the ball over 16 times, about the same as the Coyotes. The Eagles dished out 17 assists, blocked four shots and stole the basketball seven times against a very quick Paris team.
Daniel McMahon scored a game high 21 points despite missing the last three or four minutes due to injury. McMahon pulled down eight rebounds and stole the basketball three times.
Dennis Dent scored 13 points and led the Eagles with 16 rebounds. Cory Shultz scored eight KCHS points. Zach Parrish scored seven points, recorded eight rebounds, three steals and three assists on the night.
Cody Morgenstern scored five points. Ethan Hustead scored four and Mitchel Penn added two points. The Eagle bench contributed greatly to a quality win.