Eagles Win Third Place At South Shelby
By David Sharp
Knox County pushed an athletic Centralia team to the perimeter and got nine points off the bench from Brett Wilkerson and Brett Bryant, taking third place at the 2009 South Shelby Tournament with a 64-58 win.
The Eagles (5-4) drummed their Clarence Cannon Conference opponent on the boards by an unofficial 35-20 margin.
The Eagles won despite turning the basketball over 21 times, mostly due to bad passes. The contest was a close; back and forth affair until a 13-3 KCHS run opened a 49-39 lead with 6:33 to play in the game.
“Our game plan was to keep (Dennis) Dent off the blocks,” said Centralia coach Brian Brown. “We wanted him to catch it a few feet more off the block and get help from the perimeter. I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
“When (Brett Bryant) came off the bench and hit a couple of threes, we had to honor that,” said the former Centralia High School basketball great.
“We got cold from the field at the last of the third and start of the fourth quarter. The other end was a bigger concern. We weren’t getting stops and gave up offensive boards.”
Knox County pulled down 11 offensive rebounds on the night. The Eagles were able to connect on four three point shots. Centralia missed several three point tries, but nailed seven home run balls.
Scott Rodgers fired in five three pointers for the Panthers, including two late in the game trimming a 13 point KC lead with two minutes remaining in the game to 63-58 in the closing moments. Rodgers scored a game high 22 points for Centralia (4-7). Nic Ford scored 16 points. Panther center Tyler Wright was in double figures with 11 points.
KCHS senior Brett Bryant tossed in a three pointer with one minute remaining in an entertaining first quarter. The home run ball erased a two point Panther lead for a 13-12 Knox County edge. The score stood at the first break.
Matt Rusch converted an errant KC pass to a Panther hoop and a 16-13 lead 30 seconds into the second period. Brett Bryant struck again from the three point line capping a five point run to an 18-16 Eagle lead with 6:30 to go in the first half.
Brett Wilkerson tossed in two Eagle free throws, wresting thee lead to Knox County with six minutes remaining in a back and forth first half. Centralia took a two point lead. The Eagle threat from the perimeter opened the lane for Justin Reeves to tie the game at 22 with a put back at the 4:21 mark of the second quarter.
Dennis Dent tossed in a three pointer for a 25-24 edge with 2:17 showing on the first half clock. Dent converted a pair of free throws for a 27-24 lead with a minute to go. Centralia pulled within a point at the break.
Knox County scored the first four points of the second half. Justin Reeves converted another offensive board to a 31-26 lead seconds into the third period. The Panthers roared back with a 6-2 run. Brett Bryant answered with a home run ball at the six minute mark and a 36-32 Eagle lead.
Scott Rodgers tied the score at 36 at the 3:40 mark of period three. Dennis Dent fed Justin Reeves for an inside bucket. The Eagles took a 38-36 lead they wound not surrender with 3:29 to play in the third quarter.
The Panthers launched three pointers that did not find the twine. Brett Wilkerson drove the lane for KCHS buckets twice during a 13-3 run to a 49-39 Knox County lead with 6:33 showing on the game clock.
Nic Ford answered with a Centralia three point play. Knox County led 49-42 with 5:17 remaining in the game. Justin Reeves converted another offensive rebound 17 seconds later.
Brett Wilkerson and Mitchel Penn set up Knox County buckets with offensive boards in the last 3:26 of the contest. The Eagles sealed the deal at the free throw line. Knox County went 14-21 from the charity stripe, ten coming in the fourth quarter on 15 tries. Centralia was 9-17 from the free throw line.
Knox County has home Tri-Rivers Conference games coming up this week with North Shelby and Scotland County. Dennis Dent scored 17 Knox County points along with seven rebounds.
Justin Reeves recorded another double-double with 16 points and ten boards. Brett Wilkerson and Brett Bryant scored nine points each off the Eagle bench. Mitchel Penn scored seven points with nine rebounds. Lucas Hudson fired in six Eagle points. Keenan Gillaspy dished out three of the Eagles’ nine assists.
Mitchel Penn swatted down three of the team’s six blocked shots on the night.
“All year long our guards have heard we don’t have a back court,” said Knox County coach Jesse Crawford. “Our guards said they would prove them wrong tonight. We kept our composure down the stretch.”
“Justin Reeves cleaned up the glass and Brett Wilkerson had the best game of his high school career with nine points. We have grown a lot this week.”
“I feel like we have played our best basketball of the season in our last two games,” said Coach Crawford. “We have had five games in eight days. We are starting to get our rhythm.”