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Brashear Tigers Win Boy’s Tournament Title
By David Sharp
Community members, staff and students gathered around the Tiger Gym center court circle after the boys’ championship game of the 80th Annual Brashear Tournament. Adair County R-II Superintendent and head boys’ basketball coach Don Wilburn took a seat placed in the center, flanked by students Jaren Treasure and Joseph Woods.
Coach Wilburn’s well kept locks fell to the floor after keeping a promise to allow Tiger team members to shave his head if they could defeat Knox County. The Tigers (15-4) erased a five point halftime deficit and claimed their tournament’s title by a final score of 57-51.
Brashear’s six seniors won their tournament for the first time in their high school basketball careers. The Tigers last won the first place trophy during the 2002-03 school year. Knox County was dethroned as two time defending boys’ tournament champion.
Knox County won the previous two meetings with Brashear. Please visit www.nemonews.net for a more detailed description of this thrilling game.
“We came in with the attitude to box out and take it to them,” said Tiger senior Kiley Watson. “We got them in foul trouble and put the free throws in. A big game like this gives us good competition before districts.” Brashear was named as the top boys’ seed in the LaPlata Class 1 district tournament.
Knox County (16-6) came out aggressively, taking the ball at the home team’s defense. Lucas Hudson banged a three pointer for a 5-0 lead. The Eagles got more second shots early in the game.
Mitchel Penn converted an offensive board to points and an 11-6 KCHS lead with 3:24 showing on the first quarter clock. Brashear came back and tied the score at 13 with 37 seconds to play in the period. Dennis Dent hammered home a rebound with five seconds left in period one for a 15-13 Eagle edge.
Justin Reeves picked up his third foul at the 5:35 mark of the second quarter. Kiley Watson tossed in two Tiger free throws, halving a Knox County lead back to 19-17. Knox County cracked off a 9-3 run to a 28-20 lead when Mitchel Penn put another offensive board back into the cylinder with 1:25 remaining in the first half.
Matt Thomas completed a three point play with 23 seconds showing on the second quarter clock bringing the Tigers back within a 28-23 halftime deficit. Knox County had several players in foul trouble. Kiley Watson had two Brashear fouls at the half.
Knox County’s offense was not as productive as usual. Both teams played aggressive defense throughout the game. The Eagles were cold from the field in the second half. Kiley Watson drew Justin Reeves’ fourth foul with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter.
Watson scored on the play for a 30-29 Brashear lead. The Tigers did a good job of positioning for rebounds. Lucas Hudson drove to the hole and put Knox County back up by a point at the three minute mark.
The lead changed hands often during the last minutes of the third quarter. Trae Treasure converted two offensive rebounds into points. Dennis Dent had a Knox County bucket sandwiched in between. Mitchel Penn knotted the score at 34 at the two minute mark.
Brett Bryant canned a Knox County three ball for a 37-34 lead with 1:29 showing on the third quarter clock. Trae Treasure had another put back and two free throws, keying a 6-0 Brashear run to a 40-37 lead entering the final eight minutes.
Dennis Dent leaped over four Tiger defenders cutting the deficit to 40-39 30 seconds into the final quarter. Justin Hazen finished a Matt Thomas feed for a three point play and a 43-39 Tiger lead at the 5:13 juncture of the fourth quarter.
The Tigers embarked on a 9-2 streak to a 49-41 lead. Ryan Ferdig canned a pair of Brashear free throws at the 2:46 mark. Mitchel Penn picked up his fourth foul on the play.
Mitchel Penn ended the Tiger run with a driving lay up 16 seconds later. Brashear missed a pair of free throws. Justin Reeves pulled Knox County back within a 49-45 deficit with 2:01 showing on the game clock.
Kiley Watson sank two BHS free throws with 1:22 to play in the game for a 51-45 lead. Mitchel Penn fouled out on the play. The Eagles were able to keep the pressure on Brashear.
Justin Reeves scored with 53 seconds remaining in the exciting game, pulling Knox County back within a 51-47 deficit. Anthony Ambrosia sank two BHS free throws for a 55-47 lead with 39.5 seconds to go.
Brett Wilkerson drew a foul and sank a pair of Knox County free throws five seconds later, keeping the Eagles within a two possession margin. The Tigers extended their lead by two.
Dennis Dent scored on an offensive rebound, capping the game score at 57-51 with five seconds showing on the clock. Dennis Dent led three Eagles in double figures with 16 points and ten unofficial rebounds. Mitchel Penn scored 11 points. Justin Reeves was in double figures with ten points, despite sitting out valuable minutes in foul trouble.
Lucas Hudson scored seven points before fouling out of the contest. Brett Bryant finished with three points. Brett Wilkerson and Parker Dixson finished with two KCHS points each. The Eagles went 9-14 from the free throw line for 64%.
“The bottom line is we couldn’t hit anything,” said Knox County coach Jesse Crawford. “We couldn’t hit from the outside. This was a good win for Brashear. We have got to get healthy. This is a good wake up call just before districts.”
“They played harder than us tonight,” said Coach Crawford. “They beat us to the punch. We just couldn’t hit our open jump shots. We played half a game without (Justin) Reeves, (Mitchel) Penn or Keenan Gillaspy. You expect your bench guys to step up. Tonight they didn’t.”
“We just have to keep chipping away and getting better,” said Coach Crawford.
Kiley Watson tied for game scoring honors with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Matt Thomas scored 11 points with seven boards and three of the Tigers’ five assists. Trae Treasure turned in a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds.
Ryan Ferdig scored nine Tiger points. Justin Hazen scored seven points, all in the second half. Anthony Ambrosia added four points and seven rebounds. Brashear was 25-37 from the free throw line for 68%.
Both teams have two conference games each this week. Brashear hosts Milan in a February 16 make up game. Knox County hosts Schuyler County on their February 17 Senior Night. The Tigers host Bucklin in Tri-County Conference play.
Brashear travels to Novinger and Knox County heads to Putnam County on Friday, February 20. The Eagles enter the week with a 4-1 conference record. Knox County closes their Tri-Rivers season at district rival Putnam County.
“We worked on being more aggressive and quit being scared against these bigger schools,” said a hair free Tiger coach Don Wilburn.
“We spent a week and a half on blocking out,” said Coach Wilburn. “They are such a good offensive rebounding team if we could get some bodies on people we could block them out and get them in foul trouble.”
“This was a very good team win for us tonight,” said Wilburn.
“ Knox (County) is a very good team that has a realistic chance of making it to the final four. I told Coach Crawford and Dennis Dent after the game that I hope that we get a chance to see them down there (at the Columbia state semi-finals) and we could get a chance to cheer for each other’s schools rather than against each other.”