Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
It was a raucous, intense environment at the Morgan County High School gym with a tie of first place in 62nd District seeding on the line Thursday night.
The Cougars and Raiders entertained basketball fans with a game that was a barnburner for four quarters.
There was plenty of emotion as well, as district games usually bring. In the end, though, Raiders’ up-tempo style couldn’t keep up with the Cougars.
Three Cougars scored in double figures to propel Morgan County to a 51-48 win over East Carter during a battle among district rivals.
Eli Griffith led the Cougars with 13 points. Cameron Adams added 12 and Preston Hoskins collected ten points.
The Cougars and Raiders are now tied (4-1) for first place seeding in the 62nd District with one district game remaining for each of the teams to play in the regular season.
Despite suffering its first loss in district play, East Carter head coach Cole Brammer was encouraged by his team’s effort.
“Proud of our kids for how they settled in and battled,” said Brammer of his Raider squad.
“We got down 20-8 in the first to come back to lead late in the half, I thought that said a lot about the fight we have in us.”
The Cougars played in front for the majority of the first half and held a 20-8 lead over the Raiders early in the first frame.
Evan Goodman nailed back-to-back triples with less than a minute on the clock to close the gap to six points.
Blake Hall went 2-2 at the charity to stripe with 20 seconds remaining in the first to bring the Raiders within four points of the Cougars, 22-18.
Adams pulled down an offensive rebound and returned it strong to open the second quarter for the Cougars.
Hall responded with a contested jumper to trim the Cougars lead back to four.
With four minutes remaining in the second stanza, Goodman hit two more timely three pointers to make it a two-point game, 28-26.
East Carter cut the lead to one at the 2:40 mark in the second quarter following a 3-pointer by Connor Skaggs.
Hall’s bank shot with under a minute to play in the first half edged the Raiders to their first lead of the contest, 31-30.
Though the Raiders cut what was a 12-point deficit in the first quarter down to one on multiple occasions up to this point, the Cougars always had an answer.
On the ensuing possession, Griffith gave the lead back to Morgan County by shooting 2-2 at the charity stripe.
The teams went into intermission with the Raiders trailing by two points at 33-31.
The Cougars outscored the Raiders 22-18 in the first quarter and the Raiders outscored the Cougars 13-11 in the second stanza.
The game went back and forth in the low scoring (7-6) third quarter, with the score favoring Morgan County.
The Cougars opened the final stanza with a three-point advantage, 40-37.
Hall made a contested layup at the top of the fourth.
Hoskins responded on the other end of the floor with a triple, putting the score at 43-39.
Hoskins torched the net with his second three-pointer at the 1:45 mark.
Gatlin Griffith hit one of two free throws to put the Cougars up by four with 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars struggled at the charity stripe in the final minutes of the fourth quarter (3-10), but Adam’s final freebie of the night was all it took to push the score to a two-possession game with seven seconds remaining in the final stretch.
A last-ditch effort came up short and the Raiders fell 51-48.
Hall led the team with a game-high 20 points followed by Goodman with 19.
East Carter closed out regular season district play on Monday when they hosted Elliott County.
Brammer said that though his team didn’t execute everything as he would have liked, they still have time left in the season to get a few odds and ends ironed out.
“We are excited to continue to get better and to finish off this season strong,” he said.
Morgan County – 22 11 7 11 – 51
East Carter – 18 13 6 11 – 48
Morgan County (51)- Eli Griffith 13, Adams 12, Hoskins 10, Gatlin Griffith 9, Spencer 5, Justice 2, Dagnan 0. FG Pct: 43.5. FT Pct: 30.8. 3-Pointers: 29.2. (Logan 1-1, Eli Griffith 1-2, Adams 1-2, Hoskins 2-8, Gatlin Griffith 2-10, Dagnan 0-1). Fouled out: None. Turnovers:
East Carter (48) – Hall 20, Goodman 19, Ty Scott 4, Skaggs 3, Tate Scott 2, Sexton 0. FG Pct:37.5. FT Pct: 60.0. 3-Pointers: 30.0% (Skaggs 1-1, Goodman 5-9, Sexton 0-1, Ty Scott 0-5, Hall 0-3, Tate Scott 0-1). Fouled out: None. Turnovers: