Commanders come up short in season-opening overtime thriller

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By Brandon Mattingly


Washington County @ Anderson County
71-50 Anderson County
When: Friday, Nov. 30
Where: Anderson County High School
Key players: WCHS - Thomas Pettus ACHS - Jay Smith
Game highlights: The Washington County boys’ basketball team fell to 0-2 to start the season with a 71-50 loss on the road at Anderson County on Friday night.

The Commanders fell behind 18-4 after the first quarter thanks to a balanced attack from the Bearcats, who got scoring from six different players in the opening period.

Washington County didn’t back down, however, fighting their way back into the game to cut the lead to one with two minutes to play in the half behind five points from junior Thomas Pettus and four free throws from junior Sean Lewis.

Anderson County, led by senior Jay Smith, who scored seven of his game-high 30 points in the second quarter, was able to get some separation heading into intermission with a 31-22 lead.

The Bearcats turned up the pressure in the second half and translated that defensive success into offense, posting 20 points in each of the final two quarters.

“The second half we just looked like a team that was tired,” said Washington County Head Coach Russell Burkhead. “That was a lot due to (Anderson County). We probably won’t see man pressure like they put on us again this year.”

The Bearcats took a 51-35 lead into the fourth quarter and extended it into a 21-point victory.
Pettus led the way with 15 points for the Commanders, followed by Lewis’ 10.

Taylor County @ Washington County
50-47 (OT) Taylor County
When: Tuesday, Nov. 27
Where: Washington County High School
Key players: TCHS - Quentin Goodin WCHS - Alex Marshall, Thomas Pettus
Game highlights: The Commanders opened the season last Tuesday with a 50-47 loss at home to Taylor County, but it was an overtime thriller that came down to the final buzzer not once, but twice.

Washington County closed the score to 34-32 in favor of the Cardinals entering the fourth quarter after trailing, but staying within striking distance, much of the way. Trailing by four with four minutes remaining, junior Jared Young and senior Alex Marshall each got inside for easy baskets to tie the game for the Commanders.

Then, with two minutes on the clock and trailing by a point, Young stepped in front of a Taylor County pass and hit Marshall on a fast break to give WC a 40-39 lead.

Freshman Quentin Goodin sliced through the lane at the other end of the floor to put Taylor County back on top, and hit on two of four free-throw attempts down the stretch to give his team a three-point lead with 27.6 seconds remaining.

With little time to work with and in desperate need of a bucket, the Commanders turned to Pettus, who buried a game-tying three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining. The Cardinals called a timeout with 7.5 seconds left on the clock to set up a final shot, but Goodin’s attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.

Washington County was shut out for the first three minutes of the overtime period, entering the final minute in a 48-43 hole. A pair of Marshall free throws and another basket with 19.2 seconds left trimmed the lead to two, however. Taylor County senior Jordan Cundiff hit one of two free throws to extend the lead to three, but left WC with one last chance.

Marshall got off a long three-point attempt with less than 10 seconds remaining and got his own rebound, before hitting senior Markuise Stateman in the corner. Stateman’s shot found the back iron and was tipped back out to the perimeter by Young, where Pettus was forced to put up an off-balance three-point attempt at the buzzer that was just off the mark.

The Commanders let some opportunities slip away at the end, but Burkhead said his team learned something from it.

“A couple of times we had the lead inside of two minutes and we didn’t take care of the basketball,” he said. “A lot of that comes with inexperience, but I told them during a timeout with a minute to go that this will help us down the road, win or lose.”

The Commanders battled back to get in position for a chance to win after falling behind 17-7 in the second quarter. WC quickly battled back with an 8-0 run, however, thanks in large part to a corner three-pointer and a three-point play on a tough layup by Pettus.

“I felt really good coming out of the Taylor County game,” Burkhead said. “Defensively, I thought we did a really good job, especially on Wigginton (who was held to 12 points), their second-leading scorer.”

Goodin led all scorers with 23 points for Taylor County. Marshall, 18, and Pettus, 14, led the way for Washington County. Young posted five points, 10 rebounds and five steals for the Commanders.

Washington County’s next game is on the road Friday at Thomas Nelson. They’ll travel to Bardstown on Saturday and host Nelson County next Tuesday night. All three games are the second half of girl/boy doubleheaders with the girls tipping off at 6 p.m.