Knox County Boys Go 5-1 In Tri-Rivers
By David Sharp
Knox County (17-6, 5-1) flew on a 21-5 first half scoring spurt, snapping a 14 all tie and finished with a 61-51 Tri-Rivers Conference victory over Schuyler County (14-8, 2-2). The KCHS Senior Night game saw the Eagles take a 31-19 half time lead. Jacob Winkler cut the Eagle edge to 54-47 with two minutes to play in the game.
The home team sank seven of ten fourth quarter free throws, icing their fifth conference win against one defeat. The Eagles sprang to an 8-2 lead when Brett Bryant tossed in a home run ball with 5:54 showing on the first quarter clock.
Junior guard Keenan Gillaspy missed the contest due to injury. Mitchel Penn completed a touch pass assist from Lucas Hudson for a 12-4 edge with 5:02 showing on the first quarter clock.
The athletic Rams roared back with an 8-2 run. Jaron Shively sank a three ball for a 14 all tie with 48 ticks remaining in the first quarter. Knox County scored the last points of the opening period and led 16-14 at the first break.
Knox County moved the basketball well throughout the contest. The Eagles recorded 13 unofficial assists during the contest. Parker Dixson scored the first two points of what would be a 21 to five onslaught spread over portions of three quarters.
Justin Reeves took a pass from Brett Wilkerson for a 20-14 Knox County lead at the 6:20 mark. Wilkerson drove the rack and scored about 40 seconds hence.
Returning conference boys’ MVP Jacob Winkler scored four of the five Schuyler County points during the decisive streak. Winkler stemmed the tide with a driving lay up at the 5:57 point of the second quarter for a 20-16 Eagle lead.
Mitchel Penn grabbed an offensive board and completed a three point play for a 25-16 edge. Brett Bryant nailed a home run ball for a 31-19 lead with 50 seconds remaining until intermission. The score was unchanged at halftime.
Mitchel Penn sank a free throw for a 35-19 KC lead with 6:08 remaining in the third quarter, capping the 21-5 run. Schuyler County battled back with five points. Parker Dixson nailed a three ball with 4:44 showing on the third quarter clock for a 40-23 Eagle lead.
The Rams embarked on a 6-0 run to a 40-29 KCHS lead with 2:23 remaining in the third quarter. Jacob Winkler blocked two shots during the spurt. Schuyler County employed a trapping defense.
About the only less than desirable stat for Knox County supporters was the Eagles’ unofficial turnover total of 19. Quick, long armed Ram defenders along with bad passes contributed to the total. Schuyler County turned the ball over 14 times unofficially.
Lucas Hudson was on the receiving end of a Mitchel Penn assist resulting in a 42-29 Eagle lead with two minutes showing on the third quarter clock. Jacob Winkler was whistled for an offensive foul. The pace sped up appreciably.
Jaron Shively showed the necessity of keeping tabs on the junior sniper when he pulled the Rams back within a ten point deficit, The home run ball at the 1-: 23 mark made the score 42-32. Dennis Dent answered for Knox County.
Brett Wilkerson hooked up with Lucas Hudson on another pretty timing play. Hudson laid the ball in at the third quarter buzzer lifting Knox County to a 46-34 lead at the three quarter pole.
“We played really unselfish basketball,” said Eagle senior Mitchel Penn. “We knew we had to stop them (defensively). This was the last time I would ever get to play here. I had to give it all I got.”
Jacob Winkler answered a Dennis Dent hoop with a slam dunk. Knox County led 52-38 with 5:39 to play in the game. The Rams rode a 9-2 run back into contention.
Jacob Winkler stole the ball and sank a free throw with 2:01 to play in the game. Knox County held a 54-47 lead. The Eagles went to their delay game at the 1:48 mark of the fourth quarter.
Jacob Winkler was whistled for his fifth foul with 1:42 to play in the match. Mitchel Penn sank two free throws for a 56-47 edge. The Rams missed a chance to pull closer at the free throw line.
Christian Cunningham sank a put back for a 59-51 KCHS lead with 20 seconds showing on the game clock. The Knox County student section and fans rocked their house one last time this basketball season when the buzzer closed the Eagles’ 61-51 victory.
Knox County held an unofficial 27-19 rebound advantage. Jacob Winkler led all scorers with 22 Schuyler County points. Tim Gorman and Tyler Weaver were next in line with eight points each. The Rams went 4-10 from the free throw line.
“The Class of 2009 is one of the best classes ever to walk the halls of Knox County High School,” commented Knox County coach Jesse Crawford. “They have a chance to win back to back district championships. We played together as a team. We were unselfish tonight.”
“We were driving the lane. We kept feeding the paint,” said Coach Crawford of the aggressive KCHS attack. “We kept getting easy looks all night. We have got to get better handling the basketball. The Class of 2009 is a heckuva class.”
Clark County nailed down a second straight unbeaten boys’ conference championship at North Shelby the same evening. Knox County can win sole possession of second place with a victory at Putnam County this Friday.
Mitchel Penn, Brett Wilkerson, Parker Dixson, Lucas Hudson, Dennis Dent and Brett Bryant were honored along with the remaining KCHS winter activities seniors.
Mitchel Penn paced the Eagles with 17 points and three assists. Dennis Dent scored 14 points, a game high ten rebounds and three steals. Lucas Hudson scored nine points with four assists.
Justin Reeves scored eight points with five rebounds. Seven different Eagles scored and had floor stats. Brett Bryant fired in six points. Parker Dixson scored five points. Brett Wilkerson dished out four assists; recorded three steals and as many rebounds along with two points. Knox County was 13 for 19 for 68% from the foul line.
“It was Senior Night. There were a lot of emotions,” said Knox County senior Dennis Dent. “We just didn’t want to go out of here with a loss in our last game. Everybody played hard. We were unselfish like Coach (Jesse) Crawford said earlier.”
“We got another win over a really good team,” said Dent. The victory put the Eagle boys one win over last season’s regular season victory total of 16 with two more games to go plus district and beyond contests. The Lady Eagles stood two wins better than last season.
“We did a good job boxing out tonight. Jacob Winkler and (Christian) Cunningham are big boys,” said the two time KCHS all stater. “Sometimes we tried to run and made some stupid mistakes. We made up for it with free throws and making plays down the stretch.”
Dennis Dent relayed his Senior Night thoughts. “It was hard looking at all those people up there in the stands. We have had really, really good fans. Everybody comes out to watch us play. Everybody loves to watch us play. We love them. We love our community.”
“We have had a lot of support in the last couple of years. It is hard to walk out the door and know that you are never going to get to play here again,” said Dennis Dent. “We made history here. We have had a really good season, and it’s still going on. We have a lot of games left to play.”