By David Sharp
Paris scored the first eight points of a December 1 non-conference varsity boy’s game and went on to an 82-61 win over Knox County in the Eagle season opener.
The Eagles battled back with a 12-3 run, taking a 12-11 lead. Keenan Gillaspy connected on a pair of three balls during the run. Gillaspy finished with 19 points and four rebounds.
“We knew we would have to defend Jon Gilliam if we wanted to have a chance to win the game. We haven’t figured out how to stop Jon Gilliam in four years,” said Knox County coach Jesse Crawford.
“He scored 30 points (against Knox County) as a freshman, 25 as a sophomore, 41 points as a junior and 38 as a senior. He is a heckuva player.”
Jon Gilliam led all scorers with his 38 point effort. Gilliam scored his 1,000th career point at Knox County last season. Hezzy Long finished with 18 Paris points.
“We took a lot of positives away from this game,” said Jesse Crawford. The game went back and forth much of the first half.
“When you get down in the fourth quarter to a team that has good guards, it’s tough to come back.” Paris built a 22-16 lead with another streak late in the first quarter.
Knox County battled back in the second period. Paris cracked off another run with post player Justin Reeves on the bench due to foul trouble. The Coyotes led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and took a 39-27 advantage to the dressing room.
The Eagles took the ball to the lane in the third quarter and clawed back within six points. Justin Reeves finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Reeves scored 19 points for Knox County in the second half.
Justin Reeves completed a three point play with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter, cutting the Paris lead to nine points. The Coyotes scored ten unanswered points and led 63-44 entering the final period of play.
“We have some inexperienced guys out there,” said Jesse Crawford. “Coach (Garet) Nunan and I like things we see out there. We believe that come January and February we are going to have a competitive club. We are athletic as all get out.”
“We were 6-25 from three (point range). We launch a lot of threes. When we start hitting them, we will be deadly,” said Crawford. Paris sank seven home run balls during the contest. The Eagles made nine of 12 free throw attempts. Paris was 7-12 from the charity stripe.
Knox County held a 33-29 advantage on the boards. Lance McMahon scored six points with seven rebounds. Leighton McCabe scored four points with three rebounds. Brock Couch scored four points with three assists. Tristan Lonberger scored three points from the free throw line along with three assists.