Trojans slide past Hardin
Sophomore Austin Holmes' shot at :01 sinks Cougars, 68-67

CRAB ORCHARD - In a game in which no team held more than a five point lead and which there were 13 lead changes including five in the final quarter, it was poetic justice that the outcome would come down to one final shot.

On this night, the difference between Crab Orchard and Hardin County was a single 12-foot shot from Trojan sophomore guard Austin Holmes.

When his shot from the left wing left his hands during a frantic final few seconds, it was his first and only attempt of the game.
It was also the game winner.

Getting a game high 31-points from Tommy Kissing (including eight 3-pointers) and another 24 from his brother Ray, Crab Orchard survived this GEC battle, 68-67, in front of a great crowd at Crab Orchard's new high school and gym.

While the rest of his teammates struggled at times offensively on this night, Holmes connected on his only shot of the evening.

"We (the coaching staff) want him to shoot the ball more but tonight he didn't take a shot until the end," said Crab Orchard coach Jon Brown, who saw his club even its overall record at 8-8 while picking up its first conference win of the year. "He is a hustler on the defensive end and one of our better defenders. But we have confidence in him shooting the ball."

Using the philosophy of "No 3-point Shot Left Behind" the Trojans fired away from behind the arc on this night as they have for the entire season.

In fact the Trojans made 13 as a team in this game.

But Hardin County hung right with their league rivals and the Cougars were the first ones to 'pounce' at the opening tip.

Ryan Frailey of Hardin County scored 11 points and dished out a game high seven assists and he got his Cougars going early by scoring eight opening quarter points.

His score off of the opening tap just four seconds into the game gave the Cougars a quick 2-0 lead.

A steal and fast break lay up by HC's Jamie Fowler gave coach Rick Williams' club its a quick sudden 8-3 lead with 6:20 to go.

However the 3-point barrage continued for the kids wearing Orange and Black.

Both Kissing's got hot early.

Coming off a pair of nicely executed screens, Tommy and Ray hit two straight 3-pointers from the top of the circle.

When Ray's second shot found the mark, Crab Orchard trailed just 12-11 forcing a timeout by Hardin County with 3:05 before the first horn.

HC however stuck to its game plan early as they used their interior passing skills to set up easy baskets against the Trojans' zone.

After yet another 3-point bomb from T. Kissing evened the score at 14, HC closed out the quarter on an 8-3 scoring 'scamper.'

The Cougars Tyler Cowsert scored on a nice move underneath the basket on a pass from teammate John Spivey.

Following a 15-foot jumper from Frailey, Fowler stole the inbounds pass from the Trojans and scored to make it 20-14.

Another 3-pointer by T. Kissing cut the lead down to three.

Then Hardin County's 6-foot-5 center John Farler scored at the buzzer on a tip in to make it 22-17 at the end of one.

Crab Orchard got back the lead in less than two minutes of the second quarter.

Tommy Kissing scored five straight points on yet another 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.

Teammate Chris Duty scored his only bucket of the night, a 3-pointer from the left wing, to put the Trojans ahead 25-24 with 4:52.

But Hardin County continued to force action, most notably Fowler making plays on the defensive end.

Fowler scored on a mid-range shot from the right corner on an inbounds pass from Frailey.

Then he picked up yet another steal, and his pass to Spivey resulted in a fast break lay in to give Hardin County yet another five-point spread at 33-28.

Both Kissing's scored on back-to-back trips.

A short bank shot by Ray was followed by a fast break lay in by Tommy on a pass from Duty.

However Fowler finished off his fine first half in style with a 3-pointer sending the teams to the break at 36-32 Hardin County.

The third quarter might have been the best eight minutes of playing time for Tommy Kissing in his brief varsity career, at least from an offensive standpoint.

Having already scored 18-points in the opening half, he added four more 3-pointers in the third period.
His first one cut the Cougars lead to 36-35.

By the time he hit his fourth 'trifecta', Crab Orchard got the lead back at 44-42 with 4:45 to go.

"Tommy has 'more than the green light' to shoot from behind the line," added Coach Brown, whose teams have traditionally been well versed in the offensive art from behind the arc.

But while the Kissing's were lighting up the scoreboard from long range, Hardin County was being effective in close to the basket.

A 7-3 run, highlighted by a pair of Cowsert baskets, gave HC a 51-49 lead heading into the final quarter.

Crab Orchard appeared to have put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter on a 9-2 spurt in the first 1:40.

Two baskets by Curtis Boester sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Alex McCree gave the Trojans back the lead.

Boester's was fouled on his second made basket. He missed the subsequent free throw, but Ray Kissing yanked down the rebound and stuck it back home to regain a five-point lead at 58-53 with 6:20.

Coach Jon Brown's club could have put the Cougars away at this point, but they let them off the hook when Ray Kissing missed four-straight free throw attempts.

"He is a better free throw shooter than that, I don't know what happened," added Coach Brown.

Hardin County jumped on this opportunity to get back into the game.

Two consecutive trips down the floor resulted in six-points and the lead.

A conventional three-point play by Frailey followed by another 3-pointer from the top of the arc by Fowler (on a pass from Frailey) gave the lead back to the Cougars at 59-58.

Ray Kissing scored on a pair of nice moves in the lane as the Trojans struck back quickly.

When his second shot fell through, Crab Orchard was back in front 62-59.

But six-straight points from HC on a drive by Cowsert with a foul on Ray Kissing was followed by yet another 3-pointer from Fowler resulting in a 65-62 Cougar lead.

Ray Kissing once again made a drive in the lane worth points as his rebounded his own miss to cut the Hardin County lead to one.

On the ensuing Cougar possession Crab Orchard, who increased its pressure on defense, got a big steal from Boester who in turn fed Ray Kissing for yet another basket to give back the lead to Crab Orchard at 66-65.

Hardin County looked to take the lead in the final seconds.

Farler found himself with the ball underneath the basket.

He was fouled on a shot attempt with :21.9 remaining by McCree.

The senior center 'delivered the goods' by making both charity tosses to give back the lead to his team at 67-66, setting up Holmes' heroics.

On that final possession, the Trojans missed three consecutive shots. However as they had done all game long, they crashed the boards.

After the third miss, Holmes found himself with the basketball and his shot gave Crab Orchard the exciting victory.

Hardin County (3-8) got some splendid performances on this night in defeat.

Fowler and Cowsert both scored 21-points. Frailey's 11-points and seven assists were a huge contribution.

The two Kissing's combined for 55-points but they got just enough help on this night to get the victory.

Boester added five points while Duty and McCree each hit a 3-pointer.

Hardin County was much more accurate from the field on this night, making 28-of-52 attempts (54 percent) compared to CO's 25-of-66 (38 percent).

But a 32-27 rebounding advantage, including 25 offensive rebounds saved the Trojans on this night.
Hardin County hosts Galatia next Tuesday while Crab Orchard travels to Carrier Mills.

Hardin County
Crab Orchard

Hardin County (67) - J. Fowler 3 5 0-1 21, J. Cowsert 10 0 1-2 21, Spivey 4 0 0-0 8, Frailey 5 0 1-1 11, Farler 1 0 4-6 6.
2FG-23, 3FG-5, FT-7-10, PF-13.

Crab Orchard (61) - McCree 0 1 0-0 3,, T. Kissing 1 8 5-6 31, Boester 2 0 1-3 5, Holmes 1 0 0-0 2, R. Kissing 7 3 1-6 24, Duty 0 1 0-0 3.
2FG-11, 3FG-13, FT-7-15, PF-16.
Fouled Out - None.
Technical Fouls - None.