The Eminence Warriors basketball season came to a screeching halt last Tuesday night in the 30th District tournament, losing to powerhouse Anderson County in opening-round action inside Spencer County High School's gym, 77-28.
For the Warriors, who won just two games during the regular season, it wasnt much of a contest as they struggled against the Bearcats from the get go and lost by 49 points.
"We knew going into this game it would be a very, very tough game for us," Eminence coach Keith Blackburn said. "Anderson has its way with a lot of teams this year. Our guys came out a little flat and Anderson took advantage of it."
Due to disciplinary reasons, Blackburn said, Eminence went with a different starting lineup that included Ed Berry at point guard, Dre Banta at shooting guard, Ryan Paris at small forward, Trevor Davis at power forward and Ethan Keiser at center. The juggled lineup may have caused the early confusion the Warriors displayed.
Meanwhile, Anderson hit 18 of its first 20 shots and led 27-8 after the first quarter and 47-11 at the half. Eminence never threatened the Bears.
"It was like a large Division I team playing a smaller NAIA team," Blackburn said. "They are just bigger and stronger than us. They pressed us, forced us into quick turnovers right off the bat and controlled the boards."
Nelson Hedges, coming off the bench, led Eminence with nine points and eight rebounds. Banta scored eight points, including two three-point baskets, Davis scored five, and Berry, TJ Cooper and Justin Webb scored two each. Anderson, on the other hand, had nine different players score, led by C.J. Pennys 22 points.
"One thing I did get the chance to do was get everybody in there to play," Blackburn said. Guys that normally dont play very much were able to get some minutes. We made the best of the situation."
Eminence ended its season with a 2-23 record, while Anderson improved to 20-4, lost to Shelby County in the district finals and will play in the 8th Region tournament this week.
The Warriors' two wins this season have come against Kentucky School for the Deaf (55-49) and Paris (58-49). They will lose five seniors - Hedges, Davis, Paris, Keiser and Josh Clift - and return starting guards Berry and Shaun Hamlin.
"It was a long year for us, but the effort the guys continued to give made it a season that was still fun to coach," Blackburn said. "I think these young men grew up a lot this season."
There are a few changes Blackburn plans on making when his team takes to the court again, he said, starting with the approach his team takes during practice.
"Over the years, as a coach, you kind of relax a little on the guys," he said. "But starting next year, every practice is going to have the same intensity as a game. We didn't take care of the ball like we needed to, we didn't box out - these will be our top priorities when we get ready for next season.
"It was by far the toughest season I've been apart of," Blackburn added. "And I don't plan on having one again."
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