Still putting the pieces together, Henry County’s first-year head coach Derek Springate and his Wildcats dropped their record to 1-3 and started 31st District play at 0-1 with a 48-36 loss at Gallatin County on Friday night.
Afterwards, Springate said it was the best his team had played up to that point — better than Henry’s 40-37 win over Trimble County in its season opener, the 67-43 loss to Model and the 61-34 loss to Walton-Verona.
“I thought we played well. It was the first game we actually came out and executed a game plan,” Springate said. “The kids listened, played smarter, took care of the ball and got the shots they wanted. We got the looks, they just weren’t all going in. That was the best game we played yet.”
Compared to that first practice with the entire squad, the Wildcats have drastically improved. Henry’s football team made a deep run in the state playoffs, which gave the basketball team a late start with a majority of the key contributers playing for both teams.
“We’re a ton better than we were,” Springate said. “Everyone has improved over this two-week span. We aren’t where we want to be but we’re getting there. Our team chemistry is much better and our roles are more defined. We are becoming a better basketball team.”
Against Gallatin County, the visiting Wildcats were trailing 19-12 after the first quarter and 27-22 at the half. They cut the deficit to just three points heading into the final quarter but were outscored 13-4 down the final stretch.
Henry had 16 turnovers during the first half but had just six during the second.
“Even though we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, we did have some careless passes,” Springate said. “Basically, if you look at the first and fourth quarters, that’s where the game got away from us. Statistically, we were both about even for the most part but we had too many turnovers in the first half and they hit more shots than we did.”
Senior guard Pete Baldwin, who has been suffering from knee problems, led Henry in scoring for the first time this season with 14 points. Baldwin aggravated his knee during football season and had to sit out the opener against Trimble. He is getting an MRI this week.
“We don’t think it’s anything serious because his lateral movement, jumping ability and getting up and down the floor has improved significantly,” Springate said. “He says he’s feeling better, is looking better and is now getting into shape.”
Besides Baldwin’s 14 points, Connor Jeffries scored seven, Tommy Gray scored six, Spud Baldwin scored four, Jake Hartledge scored three and Trevor Raisor scored two. Hartledge hit Henry’s lone three-point basket.
Meanwhile, Gallatin had three players in double figures with Bryce Carlton scoring 12 points, and Travis Davis and Shane Williamson scoring 11 each.
After the 1-3 start, the Wildcats hosted Carroll County on Monday night and travel to Owen County this Friday for two more district games. Henry will play the three district opponents — Gallatin, Carroll and Owen — twice each during the regular season to determine postseason seeding.
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