Grayson County and Whitesville Trinity have a long history between them, with the Cougars holding a wide margin of victory in games between the two 12th District rivals. Since redistricting in 2007, the Cougars had lost only once to Whitesville, a 46-43 loss in 2016 in their old barn of a gym.
Now the Raiders (10-7) have a shiny new community center to play their games in and they christened it well on Tuesday as they overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Cougars 58-55. The KHSAA online basketball records only go back as far as 1999 and in all that time of playing home-and-home series with the Raiders, the Cougars had lost just five times, all of the losses coming in Whitesville.
The Raiders started quickly, using a 9-0 first-quarter run to grab a 15-7 lead at the 3:15 mark. The Raiders led by five points, 18-13 at the start of the second quarter. When Zach Roberts opened the period with a three-pointer, the Raiders held their largest lead of the night, eight points at 21-13.
But the Cougars (6-8) began coming back at that point and put together a 10-1 run, including back-to-back threes from Caleb Ray, to go in front 23-22 with 4:38 left in the half. Joe Brown stopped the Cougar run with a 10-footer at 4:23 to regain a one-point lead, but the Cougars scored the final six points of the period to lead by five, 29-24 at the half.
Josh Embry opened the second half with 1-of-2 at the line, then hit a lay-in at 6:32 to cap a 17-2 Cougar run that gave the Cougars an eight-point advantage, 32-24. When Bailey Logsdon buried a three-pointer at the 3:33 mark, the Cougars seemed to be in charge of the game, holding an 11-point, 40-29 lead.
But that’s when things began to go sour for the Cougars. Trinity closed out the period with 10 unanswered points to trail by just a single point, 40-39 as play moved to the fourth quarter.
The Cougars managed to fight off the Raiders over the next few minutes, but with 3;16 left to play, Cameron Wright’s rebound basket tied the score at 49-49, then Roberts put the Raiders in front 51-49 with two free throws at 2:29.
Grayson County went back up by one with 1:19 left following two Logan Majors free throws, but Ethan Howard responded with a lay-in at 1:06 and the Raiders never trailed again.
Poor free throw shooting has been an issue in the Cougars’ past two games. In their 20-point win over Cumberland County in the Magnolia Bank Classic at LaRue County, the Cougars hit just 15-of-34 from the foul line, a frigid 44 percent. They were better against the Raiders, hitting 14-of-22 fro 63 percent, but eight missed free throws in a three-point loss is significant.
Wright led the Raiders with 15 points, while Roberts had 14.
Ray led the Cougars with 17 points, including three shots from behind the arc. Logsdon hit a pair of threes and finished with 14 points. Sophomore Nolan Shartzer scored nine points for the Cougars, while Majors finished with seven.
Wyatt Schultz added four points, Embry had three and Cameron Wells closed out the scoring with one point.
By Don Brown, Local Sports
Reach Don at firstname.lastname@example.org
Caleb Ray led the Cougars with 17 points.
Josh Embry beat his man to the
basket in the first half.
Bailey Logsdon buried this 15-footer
in the first half and finished with 14 points.