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The Owen County Rebels have played its fair share of close games this season. Last week would prove to be no exception.
The Walton-Verona Bearcats paid a visit to Owenton Feb. 9. After eight minutes, it looked like the Rebels might have an easy time of it. The home used a barrage of 3-pointers in the first quarter to jump out to a 25-13 lead. The Bearcats, however, would rebound and cut the lead to 35-28 at halftime.
The Rebels then opened up the third quarter by allowing the Bearcats to complete the comeback and take a lead. Not long into the quarter, Owen County High School Boys Head Basketball Coach Devin Duvall had seen enough. The coach replaced his five starters and replaced them with Royce Neeley, Denny O’Toole, Blake Traylor, Stone Osborne and Sawyer Williams. If he was looking to spark the team, it appeared to have worked.
Neeley scored seven points during the stretch as the five helped regain and stretch the lead to 54-48 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final quarter, the Bearcats continued to claw back. They would connect on a trio of important 3-pointers and would eventually retake a 63-62 lead with 2:50 to play. A Drew Marston free throw tied the game with 2:36 left before a Jordan Shelton tip-in gave the Rebels a 65-63 advantage with 2:00 remaining.
Walton would tie the score a few seconds later when Sullivan connected on a jumper. The Rebels would respond when Michael Colligan scored off a great pass from Marston with 1:15 left in the game to go up 67-65. Once again, the Bearcats would tie the game when Jordan Ponzer sank two free throws with just over a minute left.
Owen County took the lead for good when Colligan made one of two free throws with 52.8 seconds on the clock. The Bearcats then held the ball for the final shot. After two time-outs, Ponzer was fouled going to the basket with 4.3 seconds to play. He went to the line for a one-and-one and promptly missed the first shot. Colligan came down with the rebound and was fouled with 2.5 seconds remaining.
The junior walked to the other end of the floor and missed the front end of the one-and-one. Sullivan came down with the rebound and heaved a three-quarters court shot at the buzzer that missed wide right giving Owen County the 68-67win.
“I had a lot of confidence coming into the game and was ready to help our team however I could,” Neeley said.
For Blake Traylor, the tough win was especially rewarding.
“It was great to win a close game,” Traylor said.
Duvall praised the efforts of all his players.
“It was the definition of a team effort,: Duvall said.
Shelton led the Rebels with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Collin Gamble finished the night with 15 points. Sawyer Williams finished with nine points to go along with Neeley who had seven points. Marston and Blake Lewis each had six points while Colligan had five. Osborne and Traylor each had two points.
The Rebels and their fans welcomed South Oldham to town Feb. 10 for Senior Night.
Before the game, O’Toole, Gamble, Marston, Neeley and Traylor were all honored and all five got the start against the Dragons.
The visitors came out firing up 3-pointers from everywhere on the floor. They held a 14-9 lead after one quarter, but Owen County rallied in the second to take a 24-20 lead into halftime.
Owen County opened up a 41-33 lead with just over a minute to play in the third quarter before the Dragons capitalized on some mistakes by the Rebels to tie the game at 43-43 going into the final eight minutes.
The Dragons took the lead early in the fourth and maintained it until Colligan scored with 3:35 left to tie the game.
The Dragons regained the lead twice during the next few minutes and both times Owen County managed to score and tie it again.
The final time came when Marston picked off a pass and raced down the floor for a lay-up to make the score 55-55 with less than two minutes remaining.
The Dragons took the lead for good after a 3-pointer with 1:20 to play. Gamble’s 3-point attempt with one minute left did not fall.
South Oldham made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on to the 62-59 win.
The game was the sixth time this year the Rebels have played in a game decided by three points or less.
Owen County heads into the final week of the regular season with an overall record of 11-13.
They will have two games to improve on that mark. The first came Tuesday as they traveled to Walton-Verona and the second will come Thursday night as they conclude the regular season with a road game at Trimble County.
Look for complete coverage in next week’s News-Herald.