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Third time not a charm for Warriors

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By Greg Woods

The Eminence Warriors found themselves in an unusual situation when they hosted the Owen County Rebels on Jan. 29. The game was the third straight in which the Warriors and Rebels had faced off because of a scheduling fluke and bad weather.  The Rebels won a regular season matchup on Jan. 16 by a score of 57-44. They defeated the Warriors 72-71 in the first round of the All A Classic on Jan. 22 and then came back to Eminence after both teams lost games due to weather cancellations to play again a week later.

In the third matchup the Warriors hoped to change the pattern of the first two games by getting off to a good start. They did just that in playing the Rebels tough in the opening period. But the Rebels prevailed  68-56.

 Owen County got up 5-2 early before the Warriors scored eight straight points to take a 10-5 lead. Shelby Armstrong had six of the 10 points in the run while Mitchell Golden and Jalen Dixie each added a bucket.

The two teams played evenly the rest of the period as Owen came back within one point at 12-11 with 2:21 left.

After Dixie increased the lead back out to three points with a 15-foot turnaround jumper, Owen County’s Carson Williams scored inside to make it a one point game again with 35 seconds left.

The Warriors held for the last shot of the period and scored when Armstrong got a put back at the buzzer. Armstrong was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to give the Warriors a 17-13 lead going into the second period.

Coach Chris Nethery thought the team’s game plan was working at this point.

“We didn’t want to take bad shots,” he said. “They get out in transition on bad shots, so we tried to limit bad shots which we did in the first half.”

 The Warriors lost some momentum to begin the second period when the Rebels started with two layups to tie the score. The Warriors called a quick timeout to get back on track. Owen took the lead with a free throw at 5:59, but Trevor Payton scored inside to get the Warriors back on top seventeen seconds later.

The teams traded baskets over the next two minutes before Owen County went on a 5-0 run to take a four-point lead with 3:38 left in the half.

Golden scored on a 13-foot turnaround jumper with 3:03 to stop the run and the teams traded scores the rest of the way to give the Rebels a 31-27 lead going into the locker room.

“We did a good job of controlling the tempo in the first half,” Nethery said. “But we gave up too many offensive rebounds and that hurt us.”

The Rebels came out of the locker room on fire and went on 14-2 run to open the second half. The first two baskets came on a drive by Williams who then stole the ball and streaked down court for a slam-dunk. Dixie then hit a 14-footer before the Rebels scored the next 10 points to lead 47-29 with 3:48 left in the quarter.

The Warriors finally got some footing and managed to finish the period on an 8-2 run to trail by 10 going into the final period.

Nethery saw the torrid start in the second half by the Rebels as the key to the game.

“We did a good job in the first half of controlling the tempo, but in the third period we didn’t do that and it killed us,” Nethery said. “That was the game.”

The Warriors were able to cut further into the lead to start the final period when Cornelius Sanford’s layup made it 51-43 but Owen County’s Hunter Trenary answered with a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to 11 and Jarrod Ball hit a layup to make it 56-43 with 5:34 to go.

The Warriors never got closer than 11 points after that as the Rebels extended the lead back out to 17 before a couple of late baskets by Payton and Sanford set the final margin at 12 points.

“The whole game was won or lost in the third period. They came out and punched us in the face and we didn’t respond well to that.”

The Warriors fell to 2-15 on the season while Owen County improved to 11-6.

The Warriors’ game with Carroll County was moved to Feb. 17 due to the Panthers’ trip to the All A State Tournament.