Cats night out at GEC
Wildcats, Cougars post consolation bracket wins

HARRISBURG - Although it wasn't an awesome execution of basketball prowess on Thursday night at the Greater Egyptian Conference tournament, head coach Keil Peebles and his Carrier Mills Wildcats will take the 46-44 victory in the consolation bracket semifinals.

Getting a game-best 20-points from senior Brody Walker and withstanding a Thompsonville rally in the final minutes, Carrier Mills moved into the consolation championship contest with the two-point win to improve to 9-12 overall.

Walker scored 11-consecutive points for the Wildcats to begin the fourth quarter as Coach Peebles' team led every minute of the contest and survived a lot of mistakes despite shooting the ball extremely well.

However head coach Pete Gordon's Tigers rallied to make things very interesting in the final minutes and had a shot at a 3-pointer that would have won the game just before the buzzer.

The shot attempt from long range on the left wing by freshman Cordon Fitch fell way short as the buzzer as the Wildcats survived and moved to the consy title tilt on Saturday night.

They will face Hardin County, a 45-32 winner over Pope County, in the other semifinal.

Walker, according to Coach Peebles, was battling illness on the night with a 102 temperature but the senior guard muddled through and played all 32-minutes.

The 6-foot-3 senior nailed 8-of-12 free throws in the game (7-of-9 in the fourth quarter) as he stepped up big for 13-points in the final frame.

Teammate Will Gibbs, a 5-foot-10 freshman, added eight-points for the Wildcats while senior Justice Hill, senior Justin Austin and senior Dylan Schwartz all scored six-points in the win.

“He (Walker) was sick with a 102 fever but he came up big for us tonight. We played a lot of the night without Hill (fouls) but the kids didn't panic. We got the ball to where we needed to. We got the lead and it is easier to play with the lead than not to,” said Coach Peebles.

The Tigers got a big performance from sophomore Tyson Kessler who tossed in 16-points for the 4-12 club.

Eight of those markers came in the fourth quarter as he and Walker traded scores for most of the final eight minutes.

Coach Peebles' club could have put the outcome to bed early if it wasn't for 17-turnovers, including four in the fourth.

To the Tigers' credit, they didn't quit getting behind by as many as nine-points in the fourth quarter.

When Walker closed out his personal run with five-straight points on a conventional three-point play and a baseline score, the Wildcats were in command at 37-28 with 4:03 remaining.

The 'Cats appeared to have the game tied up with a bow, after converting 5-of-6 from the foul line for a 44-35 spread with the clock down to 1:14.

Thompsonville got a score in the lane by 6-foot-7 sophomore, a 3-pointer by senior guard Cory Wilce and a steal and fast break lay in by Kessler to cut the lead to 44-42 with just :22.1 left.

Carrier Mills had two different chances to put the game away from the foul line, but only made 2-of-4 on separate trips.

After the first made free throw by Gibbs, with just :13 left, Coach Peebles with a three-point advantage chose to foul in the final seconds instead of allowing Thompsonville to get off a 3-point attempt.

Kessler nailed both foul shots with :09 left to cut the CM lead to just 45-44.

The Tigers fouled Walker a few moments later and the senior hit the first of two shots with :05.1 one.

But his second shot was no good and was rebounded by the Tigers, who quickly got the ball up the floor.

Some 25-feet from the basket on the left side of the court in front of the Thompsonville bench, Fitch let a 3-pointer fly towards the basket that would have gave the Tigers their only lead of the game and a victory.

Unfortunately the hurried shot in desperation fell short as Carrier Mills escaped with a sigh of relief.

“I made the decision to foul late instead of allowing them to get a 3-pointer to tie. But we didn't get a chance the second time and fortunately the shot fell short at the buzzer,” said Coach Peebles.

None of the final minutes and heroics would have happened had the Wildcats been able to take care of the ball as they built a comfortable lead in the early going and appeared on several occasions to be ready to run away from Thompsonville.

CM scored the game's first nine-points before the Tigers made a shot.

Forcing Coach Gordon's club into eight-turnovers in the first eight minutes, Carrier Mills converted two of the steals into fast break points.

Schwartz was the benefactor in both transition goals and Gibbs delivered the teams' only made 3-pointer of the game.

Kessler completed a three-point play to close the quarter at 9-3 CM.

Hill, who scored all six of his points in the first half, hit a pair of shots in a run in the second quarter that gave the Wildcats their largest spread.

Walker also added a pair of buckets and when Gibbs converted two from the charity stripe, Carrier Mills led 21-9 with 3:13 left before intermission.

“Walker is a tough kid to guard and he hurt us tonight,” said Coach Gordon. “We need to collectively minimize our errors. Our youth really shows at times tonight and we made mistakes. But I'm proud of the effort tonight and he (Fitch) had an open look but it was just short.”

The Wildcats were 5-of-7 from the field in the quarter and went to the break up 22-13.

Coach Peebles club committed six-turnovers in the third quarter, opening the door for Thompsonville to make a comeback.

The Tigers rally in the third featured scores by five different players as they out-gunned the 'Cats 11-4.

Payne and Fitch started the period with baskets with Kessler adding a shot in the lane that whittled the deficit to 24-19.

A 3-point bomb by Wilce and drive in the lane by sophomore Reed Raubach closed the stanza at 26-24, setting up a wild finish.

If the Wildcats had taken better care of the ball, the game wouldn't have ended up as close as it did.

Carrier Mills shot the ball well from all over the floor, hitting 15-of-23 overall, and 14-of-18 inside the arc. The only attempted five 3-point shots, making one.

Hitting 65.1 percent from the field will win teams a lot of games.

But 17-errors kept the game within reach for Thompsonville.

The Tigers were pretty good offensively as well, hitting 50 percent overall (17-of-34) and 2-of-7 from the 3-point arc.

After a shaky start handling the ball, Coach Gordon saw his club commit just one-turnover in the second half after 11 in the first 16-minutes.

The rebounding battle, in which there weren't many missed shots for opportunities, ended up even at 15-each.

The Wildcats will face Hardin County on Saturday in a rematch of a December 9th game won by the Cougars 65-50 at Elizabethtown.

Thompsonville will play the seventh place game on Friday against Pope County which is also a rematch of a November 29th game won by the Pirates at Thompsonville, 46-45.

Carrier Mills
Carrier Mills (46) - Hill 3 0 0-0 6, Walker 6 0 8-12 20, Gibbs 0 1 5-6 8, Austin 3 0 0-0 6, Schwartz 2 0 2-2 6, Lollis 0 0 0-0 0, Lewis 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-14, 3FG-1, FT-15-20, PF-12.
Thompsonville (44) – Payne 2 0 0-1 4, Wilce 0 2 3-3 9, Darge 1 0 0-2 2, Kessler 6 0 4-5 16, Fitch 4 0 0-0 8, Raubach 2 0 1-2 5.
2FG-15, 3FG-2, FT-8-13, PF-19.

Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– None.
The Cougars improved to 7-11 on the season as they moved into the consolation title game with Carrier Mills slated for Saturday after the win over the Pirates on Thursday night.

Coach Rodney Lane's team survived despite leading just 34-30 in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars were led by Tyler Winters with 21-points while Craig Hutson and Jamison Hicks added 11 and 10-points respectively.

Sophomore guard Matthew Davis led Pope County (5-15) with 14-points.

Hardin County
Pope County
Hardin County (45) – Hutson 4 0 3-6 11, Winters 5 2 5-6 21, Cullum 0 0 0-0 0, Hicks 4 0 2-2 10, Austin 0 0 2-2 2, Fowler 0 0 1-2 1.
2FG-13, 3FG-2, FT-13-18, PF-11.

Pope County (32) – Davis 4 2 0-1 14, Grinder 0 0 0-0 0, Fasolo 1 0 0-0 2, Jake Floyd 2 0 1-1 5, Josh Floyd 3 0 3-3 9, Walker 0 0 0-0 0, Blankenship 0 0 0-0 0, Rison 1 0 0-0 2, Eddington 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-11, 3FG-2, FT-4-5, PF-15.

Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– None.