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Heading into Monday night’s game with Anderson County the Owen County Rebels had already done something no other team since 1996 had done. They had won a first round game in the 8th Region Tournament. If Owen County could beat the region’s top team they would equal the feat of that ’96 team by reaching the 8th Region Finals.
The Rebels almost did not reach Monday night. They had to overcome themselves and hang on in overtime to beat Grant County last Wednesday night in the first round.
Owen County’s inability to make free throws down the stretch allowed the Braves to overcome a 13-point deficit and send the game to overtime.
Kody Thompson’s basket with six seconds left in the game tied the score at 47-47. Collin Gamble got off a shot before the buzzer that hit off the rim.
In overtime, the Rebels twice led by five but again they were not able to convert critical free throws in the final minute. Jared Livingood gave Grant County a 56-55 lead with thirty seconds left in overtime. The lead was the Braves first since they led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter.
On the Rebels’ next possession, Drew Marston was fouled with 10.4 seconds left on the clock. This time the senior calmly sank both free throws to give Owen County a 57-56 advantage. After a time out, the Braves raced the ball down the floor and Thompson took the ball into the lane and got off an eight-foot jumper at the buzzer that rimmed out sending the Rebels into the semifinals.
Anderson County reached Monday night with a 52-42 win over North Oldham.
The Rebels’ meeting with Anderson County was the second game between the two schools this season. Earlier this season Anderson County defeated Owen County 67-49 in Owenton. On that night the Rebels battled back from a first quarter deficit to trail by one at halftime. Anderson County then came out in the third quarter and outscored Owen County 22-6 to take control of the game.
For the Rebels, Monday night was a case of déjà vu.
The Bearcats jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Michael Colligan scored with 1:15 left in the first quarter. Marston added a 3-pointer and the Rebels found themselves down 11-5 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to Owen County. A Gamble jumper with 4:42 left in the half tied the game and a Blake Lewis lay-up less than two minutes later gave Owen County a 15-14 lead. The Rebels extended the lead to 19-14 when Jordan Shelton tipped in his own miss. Anderson County hit a three near the end of the half to cut the Owen County lead to 19-17 heading into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the Rebels and their fans who had traveled to Henry County for the game began to think that it was Jan. 15 all over again. The Bearcats scored the first 12 points of the quarter to jump out to a 29-19 lead. Owen County’s only basket of the quarter came with 3:20 left in the quarter when Gamble scored. Anderson County finished the quarter by outscoring Owen County 16-2 to take a 33-21 lead into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was much of the same as Anderson County used their pressure defense and patient offense to wear down the Rebels. After the game Coach Duvall said his team was wearing down.
“They turned up the defense,” said Duvall. He also talked about how the Bearcats are a tough team to guard. “You have to spend so much energy on the defensive end.”
In the game’s final minutes, Duvall took out each of the five seniors allowing the fans to give them one final salute.
When the final buzzer sounded on the season, the Bearcats were headed to the 8th Region Finals with a 45-28 win while the Rebels were left to think about the season that was.
“I think we have to go away from the season thinking it was a success,” said Duvall following the game. He talked about the team winning the NCKC and the 31st District Title. He also said it was nice to be the first team since 1996 to reach the 8th Region semifinals.
As for the seniors, Duvall said they would be missed. “All five have been with us for four years and have been with me for seven years.”
He said they should be commended for enduring a tough schedule and “a lot of peaks and valleys” during the year.
Gamble and Lewis each finished the game with six points. Shelton also had six points while pulling down 10 rebounds. Colligan tossed in four points while pulling down seven boards. Marston had four points while Stone Osborne added two points.
Owen County finished the season with a record of 15-15.