Knox County Boys Win Round Two
By David Sharp
Knox County and Brashear put on the second round of a possible area heavyweight boys’ basketball battle in front of a packed house on February 2, 2009 at Brashear. The Eagles (13-5) rode stellar performances from their interior players, nine fourth quarter made free throws along with two critical Mitchel Penn steals in the final three minutes to a 76-67 victory.
Both teams had men step up and play fantastic games. Ryan Ferdig poured in a game high 25 Brashear points and six rebounds. Ferdig tied the game at 56 at the 5:36 mark of the fourth quarter after Brashear (12-4) erased a seven point Knox County lead.
Two time all state senior Dennis Dent scored 24 points along with an unofficial 17 rebounds for Knox County. Dent stepped out and drilled a game tying three point shot at the 3:20 mark of the fourth quarter, knotting the score at 62.
Brashear junior Matt Thomas stole the basketball and put the Tigers on top by a 62-59 score with 4:24 to play in the game. Thomas pulled down five rebounds; dished out a game high six assists and scored eight Tiger points.
Justin Reeves hammered home 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds from the Knox County post. Reeves scored eight KCHS points in the third quarter, helping the Eagles fight off a 16-15 Brashear challenge. Trae Treasure scored 14 points with seven Brashear boards. Brashear scored several points off transition.
Knox County grabbed an 10-3 lead in a fiercely contested, fast paced first quarter. Keenan Gillaspy stole the basketball and fed Justin Reeves followed by Mitchel Penn finishing a fast break at the 5:56 mark of the first quarter.
Brashear stepped up their effort to keep the ball out off the blocks. Kiley Watson capped a string of five unanswered points, pulling the Tigers within a 10-8 score. Knox County countered with a five point run of their own.
Justin Reeves capped a Dennis Dent feed for a 12-8 Eagle lead at the four minute mark of the first quarter. Dent buried a KCHS home run ball at the 3:11 mark, re establishing the seven point Eagle edge at 15-8.
Most of the game was a similar struggle. Knox County would take a lead, and Brashear would counter attack. Dennis Dent sank two free throws for a 19-12 Knox County lead after eight minutes of basketball.
Matt Thomas lit the fuse for a 13-2 Brashear run with a home run ball. Knox County had three shots on their end but did not finish. Ryan Ferdig made the Eagles pay by streaking down the court for a BHS lay-up.
Ryan Ferdig beat the Eagles down the court for another Tiger bucket. Trae Treasure nailed a three ball from the corner pocket for a 25-23 Brashear lead with 5:20 showing on the first half clock.
Dennis Dent tied the game with free throws. Trae Treasure answered back for the home team. Keenan Gillaspy tied the game at 27 with 4:09 to play in period two.
Knox County took a three point lead late in the first half. Anthony Ambrosia drilled a three, tying the score at 33 with 1:40 remaining in the first half. Parker Dixson and Dennis Dent tossed in three points with free throws for a 38-35 Eagle lead with 32 ticks on the first half clock.
Brashear sophomore center Jay Scudder grabbed a rebound and scored with 17 seconds remaining in the first half. The capacity crowd roared when the teams retired to their respective dressing rooms with Knox County holding a slim 38-37 lead.
“It got away from us,” said Brashear coach Don Wilburn. “We had a couple of possessions where we didn’t convert. I thought a key to the game was they got to the free throw line a lot more than we did.”
Knox County sank 24 of 36 from the free throw line, good for 75% on the night. Brashear was 9-18 from the charity stripe for 50%. “We had three starters on the bench in foul trouble. If we hadn’t been in that foul trouble, maybe we could have made a little run by halftime and the outcome may have been a little different.”
I don’t want to criticize officiating, but it seemed like their big guys didn’t get in foul trouble, and our big guys did,” said Wilburn. “I thought that was a key to the game.”
“I have to give Knox (County) a lot of credit,” said Coach Wilburn. “They hit free throws down the stretch. I don’t think the final score is really an indication of what the game was.”
“It was a two to four point game most of the way,” said Wilburn. “We had to foul and they hit their free throws and were able to stretch it out. (Ryan Ferdig) did a better job of shot selection tonight. Jay Scudder has been coming along in practice. When he could block an all state senior who is a horse inside. We are hoping for a three big man rotation instead of having to put another guard out there.”
Knox County jumped out to a 46-41 lead with 4:52 to play in the third quarter. Brashear center Kiley Watson was assessed his fourth foul around that point in the contest. Brashear trimmed the Eagle lead to 46-43.
Mitchel Penn scored on a sweet looking feed from Keenan Gillaspy for a 50-43 Knox County lead with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter. Brashear fought back with a 9-4 run. Ryan Ferdig muscled in an offensive rebound for a 54-52 Knox County lead after three quarters.
Both student sections were into the game from the start. The game had a college like atmosphere. The home crowd roared when Ryan Ferdig tied the game at 56 with a driving lay up with 5:36 remaining in the drama filled game.
The court opened up. Both teams ran the floor well. Knox County took a one point lead with 5:06 to play in the game. Ryan Ferdig put the Tigers back on top by a point four seconds later.
Matt Thomas stole the basketball and put Brashear on top of a 62-59 lead with 4:24 showing on the clock. Dennis Dent banged a three, knotting the tally at 62 with 3:20 remaining.
Justin Reeves sank a KCHS free throw. Mitchel Penn made a play when he stole the basketball, grabbed a rebound and completed a three point play for a 66-62 Eagle edge with 2:25 to go in regulation time. The Eagles outscored their hosts 22-15 in the fourth quarter.
Brett Wilkerson tossed in two pressure packed KCHS free throws with 1:27 to play for a 70-62 lead. Mitchel Penn stole the ball one more time. Dennis Dent and Matt Thomas exchanged field goals around the one minute mark.
Ryan Ferdig drew Lucas Hudson’s fifth foul and trimmed the Knox County lead to 72-65 with 58 ticks on the clock. Keenan Gillaspy and Brett Wilkerson sank Knox County free throws in the final 50 seconds, sealing the 76-67 Knox County victory.
Knox County finished with an unofficial 36-33 edge in team rebounds. Most game stats were very close. Both sides took care of the basketball. Knox County had seven steals with five unofficial Brashear turnovers. The Tigers stole the ball five times with six KCHS turnovers.
Brashear held a slim 8-7 advantage in team steals. Dennis Dent had two of the Eagles’ three blocked shots. Jay Scudder and Kiley Watson blocked Brashear’s two shots.
Anthony Ambrosia scored nine points with four rebounds. Six Tigers had three or more rebounds. Kiley Watson had six points and five Brashear rebounds. Justin Hazen added three Tiger points.
Mitchel Penn was the third Eagle scoring in double figures with 13 points, three rebounds and two steals. Lucas Hudson tossed in eight KCHS points. Brett Wilkerson scored five points along with a pair of steals and boards. Keenan Gillaspy led the Eagles with four assists and scored four points. Parker Dixson added one Knox County point.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight,” said reigning Class 2 district boys’ Coach of the Year Jesse Crawford. “We still scored 76 points. When you can do that, I feel like we were hitting on all eight cylinders.”
“That is a great ball club. They are playing really well right now,” said Coach Crawford of the Tigers. “For us to beat them at their house…That was a crazy atmosphere. That is what high school basketball is all about.”
“Their crowd gets into the game, our crowd gets into the game. That’s what you live for. Win or lose, this was a great battle. We shut them down from 2:59 on.”
Knox County closed the game on a 14-5 run. “Our defense stepped up and we knocked down our free throws. When you can do that, you know you are playing well.”
“Dennis Dent had 24 points and 17 boards. He is fun to have,” said Coach Crawford. “We were battle tested in the fourth quarter. If the brackets go right in the Brashear Tournament, these teams will have each other again in 12 days.”
“When you can beat a team like this twice, you know you are doing something right in your program,” said Jesse Crawford.