Cougars Edge Indians For District Basketball Title

By David Sharp

Clark County responded to a Derek Smith slam dunk opening the boy’s Class 3, District 7 championship game with a red hot first quarter. The Indians (13-15) closed the first quarter on a 17-8 run to a 22-16 lead.
Clark County led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter and by 11 in the third.
Highland (16-9) defended the post better in the second half and pulled out a 70-67 victory.
The Cougars claimed their first boy’s district championship since 2008.  Kyle Kovar led all scorers with 23 points. Clark County looked like they might run away and hide in the first half.
Chris Sparks stole the ball and scored for an 8-5 Highland lead with 5:15 showing on the first quarter clock. Clark County reeled off a 21-6 run to a 22-16 lead. Chase Bevans cashed in one of many Clark County rebounds at the ten second point of period one.
Clark County man defense kept Highland away from the rim in the second quarter. The Indians blew past Cougar defenders and scored. Clark County seemed to make every shot.
The Indians led 32-18 at the 3:50 mark of the first half. Clark County was getting good shots and converting them to points. Chris Sparks jump started the dormant Highland offense with a three ball, beginning a 9-2 Cougar run to a 34-27 score.
Wes Cramsey capped the burst with a steal and hoop with 1:55 remaining in the first half. Chase Bevans rebounded, drove the length of the court and scored a Clark County bucket with 38 ticks on the clock.
Austin Egley sank two CC free throws with 13 seconds in the half. Highland’s Jack Neisen changed momentum, canning a three ball at the buzzer for a 38-30 Clark County halftime lead.
“People over look us. We have a lot of talent. When we play as a team it all comes together,” junior guard Jack Neisen said. “We did that today and came out on top. Coach (Brian) Leeser helped me out. I just asked him to keep giving me shots and I knocked them down.”
“We moved it around and got everybody some touches,” Jack Neisen said. Clark County came out of the dressing room with a purpose. The Indians took the ball to their strength inside.
Clark County was winning the battle of the boards. Kyle Kovar scored for a 49-36 lead with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter. Austin Egley and Jack Neisen traded buckets for a 51-38 Indian advantage with 4:20 to play in the period.
Clark County stretched their lead to 53-43. Chase Bevans scored after the Indians won a scramble for a loose ball with 3:10 remaining in the quarter.
Highland (16-9) roared back scoring the next seven unanswered points. Brandon Davie fired in two three balls. Austin Richmiller’s put back brought Highland back within a 57-52 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
Jack Neisen buried a three early in the fourth quarter. Brandon Davie sank two free throws, knotting matters at 57 with 7:11 to play in the game. The lead changed hands twice in the next three minutes.
Highland altered their defensive strategy, appearing to have as many as four men guarding two Clark County players on the blocks. The Indians couldn’t sink countering perimeter shots.
Highland made a couple of plays, building a 67-62 lead with 2:12 showing on the clock. Kyle Kovar scored with 1:18 on the clock for a 67-65 game.
Brandon Davie sank a Cougar free throw with 67 seconds remaining for a 68-65 lead. Clark County missed two key free throws with 52 ticks on the clock Kyle Kovar rebounded the second missed charity toss. A put back try rolled off the rim.
Derick Smith’s free throw gave Highland a 69-65 lead with 27 seconds to play. Kyle Kovar scored for Clark County with 4.6 seconds remaining in a thrilling contest.
“We had to get out and play defense and rebound,” Highland senior Derick Smith said of the Cougar come back. “We had to do the things we have been talking about all weekend. We knew we could come back. We are a team. We have done it before.”
“We came out and play as five. We played together, it wasn’t just one man game,” Derick Smith said. “We feel like we have accomplished something for Highland.
Highland clung to a 69-67 edge. Austin Richmiller sank a free throw. Clark County could not get a three point try to go down. Highland players and fans celebrated the first district championship for the Cougar Class of 2013.
“We turned up our defense in the second half,” Highland coach Brian Leeser said. “We did a better job inside on Kovar. I think that was the key to the game, especially in the fourth quarter.”
“We were going to throw some things at them in the second half,” Brian Leeser said. “We were going to have Jack Neisen out there and he was going to can some shots for us.”
“We weren’t getting many shots outside. They were keying on (Derick) Smith and (Brandon) Davie,” Coach Leeser said. “It just allowed us to get somebody else open out there.”
“This was the first championship for these seniors. They really worked hard in the last week or two to get to this point,” Brian Leeser said.
“We saw that we were able to get the ball into (Derick) Smith in the third quarter,” Coach Leeser said. “We just kept pushing the ball into him. We told him to skip the ball to Jack (Neisen) on the back side for a shot.”
Derick Smith led Highland with 17 points. Brandon Davie and Jack Neisen scored 14 points each. Austin Richmiller was the fourth Cougar in double figures with ten points. Wes Cramsey scored eight and Chris Sparks added seven Highland points.
Highland went 10-19 at the free throw line. Clark County was 8-17 from the charity stripe. Clark County matched up with Highland, sinking three home run balls to four Cougar three balls.
Chase Bevans backed up Kyle Kovar’s 23 point night with a 14 point effort. Luke Ross scored eight points for the fifth seeded Indians. Jayvin Ray scored six CC points. Dylan Harper scored five points. Austin Egley and Rye Hunziker put in four points each. Tommy Dever added three Indian points.
Seniors  Luke Ross, Austin Egley, Tommy Dever, and Kyle Kovar and played their final basketball games for Clark County.
“Derick Smith is as good of a player as there is in our league,” Clark County coach Adam Rung said. “They got him down there on the blocks and he changed the game. You couldn’t leave (Brandon) Davie to double down because of how good a shooter he is.”
“(Jack) Neisen really hurt us. He made some shots. We weren’t going to let Davie and Smith beat us,” Adam Rung said. “They had Neisen step up. At tournament time, it is usually someone that’s not your best player that beats you. He was a critical factor.”
“When we couldn’t get initial action on the front side, we didn’t run our offense,” Adam Rung said. “We started forcing action instead of making them come out on us and then throwing it in.”
“We gave it all we had,” Adam Rung said. “We have no excuses. We gave ourselves a chance at the end and they just made more plays. It says a lot about our kids to be able to bounce back.”
“All tournament long we played like that,” Coach Rung responded to a question about the Indian first half quality of play. “That is why we have been successful. At the start of the third quarter we played like that. When the post season came, the light bulb finally went on in our kids.”
“I’m sure it was a fun game to watch. It was a pressure game to coach,” Adam Rung said. “We thought we had made them do some things we wanted. They stepped up and had kids make plays.”
“I think it was a high level basketball game. Both crowds were great,” Rung said. “I think it says a lot about kids from both schools when you get a district championship game like this.”
hot first quarter. The Indians (13-15) closed the first quarter on a 17-8 run to a 22-16 lead.
Clark County led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter and by 11 in the third.
Highland (16-9) defended the post better in the second half and pulled out a 70-67 victory.
The Cougars claimed their first boy’s district championship since 2008.  Kyle Kovar led all scorers with 23 points. Clark County looked like they might run away and hide in the first half.
Chris Sparks stole the ball and scored for an 8-5 Highland lead with 5:15 showing on the first quarter clock. Clark County reeled off a 21-6 run to a 22-16 lead. Chase Bevans cashed in one of many Clark County rebounds at the ten second point of period one.
Clark County man defense kept Highland away from the rim in the second quarter. The Indians blew past Cougar defenders and scored. Clark County seemed to make every shot.
The Indians led 32-18 at the 3:50 mark of the first half. Clark County was getting good shots and converting them to points. Chris Sparks jump started the dormant Highland offense with a three ball, beginning a 9-2 Cougar run to a 34-27 score.
Wes Cramsey capped the burst with a steal and hoop with 1:55 remaining in the first half. Chase Bevans rebounded, drove the length of the court and scored a Clark County bucket with 38 ticks on the clock.
Austin Egley sank two CC free throws with 13 seconds in the half. Highland’s Jack Neisen changed momentum, canning a three ball at the buzzer for a 38-30 Clark County halftime lead.
“People over look us. We have a lot of talent. When we play as a team it all comes together,” junior guard Jack Neisen said. “We did that today and came out on top. Coach (Brian) Leeser helped me out. I just asked him to keep giving me shots and I knocked them down.”
“We moved it around and got everybody some touches,” Jack Neisen said. Clark County came out of the dressing room with a purpose. The Indians took the ball to their strength inside.
Clark County was winning the battle of the boards. Kyle Kovar scored for a 49-36 lead with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter. Austin Egley and Jack Neisen traded buckets for a 51-38 Indian advantage with 4:20 to play in the period.
Clark County stretched their lead to 53-43. Chase Bevans scored after the Indians won a scramble for a loose ball with 3:10 remaining in the quarter.
Highland (16-9) roared back scoring the next seven unanswered points. Brandon Davie fired in two three balls. Austin Richmiller’s put back brought Highland back within a 57-52 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
Jack Neisen buried a three early in the fourth quarter. Brandon Davie sank two free throws, knotting matters at 57 with 7:11 to play in the game. The lead changed hands twice in the next three minutes.
Highland altered their defensive strategy, appearing to have as many as four men guarding two Clark County players on the blocks. The Indians couldn’t sink countering perimeter shots.
Highland made a couple of plays, building a 67-62 lead with 2:12 showing on the clock. Kyle Kovar scored with 1:18 on the clock for a 67-65 game.
Brandon Davie sank a Cougar free throw with 67 seconds remaining for a 68-65 lead. Clark County missed two key free throws with 52 ticks on the clock Kyle Kovar rebounded the second missed charity toss. A put back try rolled off the rim.
Derick Smith’s free throw gave Highland a 69-65 lead with 27 seconds to play. Kyle Kovar scored for Clark County with 4.6 seconds remaining in a thrilling contest.
“We had to get out and play defense and rebound,” Highland senior Derick Smith said of the Cougar come back. “We had to do the things we have been talking about all weekend. We knew we could come back. We are a team. We have done it before.”
“We came out and play as five. We played together, it wasn’t just one man game,” Derick Smith said. “We feel like we have accomplished something for Highland.
Highland clung to a 69-67 edge. Austin Richmiller sank a free throw. Clark County could not get a three point try to go down. Highland players and fans celebrated the first district championship for the Cougar Class of 2013.
“We turned up our defense in the second half,” Highland coach Brian Leeser said. “We did a better job inside on Kovar. I think that was the key to the game, especially in the fourth quarter.”
“We were going to throw some things at them in the second half,” Brian Leeser said. “We were going to have Jack Neisen out there and he was going to can some shots for us.”
“We weren’t getting many shots outside. They were keying on (Derick) Smith and (Brandon) Davie,” Coach Leeser said. “It just allowed us to get somebody else open out there.”
“This was the first championship for these seniors. They really worked hard in the last week or two to get to this point,” Brian Leeser said.
“We saw that we were able to get the ball into (Derick) Smith in the third quarter,” Coach Leeser said. “We just kept pushing the ball into him. We told him to skip the ball to Jack (Neisen) on the back side for a shot.”
Derick Smith led Highland with 17 points. Brandon Davie and Jack Neisen scored 14 points each. Austin Richmiller was the fourth Cougar in double figures with ten points. Wes Cramsey scored eight and Chris Sparks added seven Highland points.
Highland went 10-19 at the free throw line. Clark County was 8-17 from the charity stripe. Clark County matched up with Highland, sinking three home run balls to four Cougar three balls.
Chase Bevans backed up Kyle Kovar’s 23 point night with a 14 point effort. Luke Ross scored eight points for the fifth seeded Indians. Jayvin Ray scored six CC points. Dylan Harper scored five points. Austin Egley and Rye Hunziker put in four points each. Tommy Dever added three Indian points.
Seniors Logan Prewitt, Luke Ross, Austin Egley, Tommy Dever, Kyle Kovar and Lincoln Jones played their final basketball games for Clark County.
“Derick Smith is as good of a player as there is in our league,” Clark County coach Adam Rung said. “They got him down there on the blocks and he changed the game. You couldn’t leave (Brandon) Davie to double down because of how good a shooter he is.”
“(Jack) Neisen really hurt us. He made some shots. We weren’t going to let Davie and Smith beat us,” Adam Rung said. “They had Neisen step up. At tournament time, it is usually someone that’s not your best player that beats you. He was a critical factor.”
“When we couldn’t get initial action on the front side, we didn’t run our offense,” Adam Rung said. “We started forcing action instead of making them come out on us and then throwing it in.”
“We gave it all we had,” Adam Rung said. “We have no excuses. We gave ourselves a chance at the end and they just made more plays. It says a lot about our kids to be able to bounce back.”
“All tournament long we played like that,” Coach Rung responded to a question about the Indian first half quality of play. “That is why we have been successful. At the start of the third quarter we played like that. When the post season came, the light bulb finally went on in our kids.”
“I’m sure it was a fun game to watch. It was a pressure game to coach,” Adam Rung said. “We thought we had made them do some things we wanted. They stepped up and had kids make plays.”
“I think it was a high level basketball game. Both crowds were great,” Rung said. “I think it says a lot about kids from both schools when you get a district championship game like this.”

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