WC boys drop nail-biter in All-A first round

-A A +A
By Brandon Mattingly


Washington County vs. Green County
60-59 Green County
When: Monday, Jan. 14
Where: Washington County High School
Key players: WCHS - Alex Marshall, Justin Shelton GCHS - Kyle Patterson
Game highlights: Washington County boys’ basketball (4-13) fell just short in a nail-biter on Monday night in the first round of the 5th Region All-A tournament. The Green County Dragons (5-14) left Washington County High School with a 60-59 win in a game that saw the lead change hands four times in the final minute-and-a-half.

“We just came up a little short,” said Washington County Head Coach Russell Burkhead. “That’s a tough one to take. When you’re struggling to win you try to get those games, but I told the kids after the game that I’m proud of them, because they play hard.”

After a back-and-forth battle where the Commanders erased a seven-point halftime deficit, Green County entered the fourth quarter with a 42-38 lead. The Commanders stayed in the game with four three-pointers in the third quarter, including two from sophomore Justin Shelton.

That trend continued when junior Tylyn Byas and senior Alex Marshall each drilled a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter and tie the game at 44. A Marshall three-point play and another round of threes from he and Byas gave Washington County its first lead of the second half at 53-51 with just under three minutes remaining.

Marshall drove the baseline for a layup to break a 55-55 tie at the 1:30 mark, but the Commanders turned the ball over on an inbounds pass on their next possession, allowing junior Justice Bishop to give the Dragons the lead.

Shelton drove to the basket and dished to Marshall to put WC back on top with 30 seconds to play, but senior Kyle Patterson answered immediately at the other end for Green County.
After setting up a play out of a timeout with 9.2 seconds left, the Dragons used their last foul to give with 1.6 seconds left. The Dragons, however, made the mistake of fouling again with 0.6 seconds left, sending Marshall to the line for the one-and-one bonus.

The WC senior couldn’t make Green County pay, however, as the free throw missed long, preserving the Dragons’ trip to Fort Knox on Tuesday for round two.

Marshall led all scorers with 24 points to go with six rebounds. Shelton and senior Thomas Pettus added nine points each.

Washington County @ Nelson County
58-44 Nelson County
When: Tuesday, Jan. 8
Where: Nelson County High School
Key players: WCHS - Alex Marshall NCHS - Joseph Cesare
Game highlights: The Commanders battled Nelson County (5-11) last Tuesday night with the 19th District’s third seed on the line, and a 58-44 loss bumped WC from the third spot for the first time since the Commanders won the teams’ first meeting in overtime on Dec. 11.
Without their head coach in attendance -- Burkhead missed the game with an illness -- Washington County got off to a disastrously slow start, recording just a single point in the first quarter.

The Commanders, however, got back on their feet in the second quarter, cutting NC’s 13-1 lead to three points at 15-12 three minutes before halftime thanks to three-pointers for WC. Nelson County weathered the Washington County rally, closing the first half with six unanswered points to head into halftime with a nine-point lead.

The game of runs continued into the second half, with Nelson County pulling away to a 21-point lead, just to see the Commanders cut the lead to 11 with two minutes to play. They weren’t able to close the gap any further, however, on their way to their third-straight district loss.

Marshall led WC with 19 points and six rebounds. Senior Joseph Cesare led Nelson County with 19 points as well.

The Commanders and Cardinals are now both 2-4 in the 19th District with two district matchups left, with the Cards owning the inside track for the third seed thanks to last week’s result.

This year’s five-team district format means the top three seeds earn first-round byes, which Washington County is now looking for help to earn.

Nelson County faced Thomas Nelson (2-17) on Tuesday night after press time, and a Cardinals loss would open the door for WC to have the opportunity to move back into position for a first-round bye.

Washington County will be back in action next Tuesday at home against Bardstown at 7:30 p.m.