For 20 minutes last Tuesday night, the Eminence Warriors played their best basketball this season. They ran their offense, controlled the ball, took open shots, pulled down boards and played solid defense to hang with Spencer County in the 30th District opener for both schools.
But midway through the third quarter, in a turn of events, Spencer went on a spurt and never looked back as the Bears pulled out to a sizable lead and won 69-37. It improved their overall record to 11-2 and dropped Eminence to 1-8.
“My biggest message to our players afterwards was a game is not decided in 22 minutes, it’s decided in 32 minutes,” EHS coach Chris Nethery said. “That’s really what they need to take away from this game. Even though the final score wasn’t that close, there’s a lot of positives for us. Spencer has a nice team and more depth than us, but we were right there. We have to learn to sustain our effort and mental focus the entire game.”
Freshman center Bradley Foree stepped up in the district opener with 23 points and 14 rebounds to keep the Warriors close in the early going. Jordan Fairchild scored six points, while Sean Arsmtrong and Jeremy Keller scored four each.
Baskets from Foree and Fairchild gave Eminence an early 4-0 lead to start what turned into a back-and-forth opening quarter. Later in the quarter, Armstrong’s basket put Eminence ahead 12-10. The Bears closed out the quarter with a jumper to tie the game and a 3-pointer to give them a 15-12 lead.
Cooper started the second quarter with a steal and layup, and Foree scored inside to put Eminence ahead 16-15. At the break, Spencer led 29-22 in what Nethery calls the best half his team has played this season.
“Considering the quality of competition we were playing, it was our best half,” Nethery explained. “We had them right where we wanted them.”
With 4:05 left in the third quarter, Nethery said he looked up at the clock and his team was trailing by just three points. But Spencer forced Eminence into four consecutive turnovers, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and opened up a lead. Within a four-minute stretch, Spencer was in front by 21 points, 49-28.
“It was frustrating. We lost mental focus,” Nethery said. “Before the game we sat down and talked to everyone about game plans and why we need to follow through with them. We ran our offense, didn’t take any bad shots and did what we needed to do. It worked for the first 22 minutes but then our wheels fell off.”
Spencer outscored Eminence 20-9 during the final quarter to continue to extend its advantage down the stretch.
The Warriors’ scheduled game at Louisville Collegiate on Friday night was canceled due to the weather.
After opening the season with five straight losses, Eminence’s only win so far came against Kentucky School for the Deaf, 49-43, on Dec. 17. But, according to Nethery, the best half of ball the Warriors have played this season was last Tuesday against Spencer.
Eminence played at Anderson County on Tuesday in its second 30th District game and plays at Henry County this Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
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