Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
After handling Elliott County 68-37 in the first round of the 62nd District Tournament Tuesday, the East Carter Raiders punched their ticket to the championship game.
Three weeks removed from their last affair of the regular season, the Raiders once again matched up with the Morgan County Cougars on Friday, with the stakes much higher in the district championship game.
The Cougars capped off a dominant tournament run, winning both rounds of tournament play against West and East Carter, with an average of 27-point wins between the two games.
Morgan County and East Carter are no strangers on the court. The district rivals were 1-1 for the regular season. At their last matchup, the Cougars came out victors 51-48.
The Raiders were determined to not let history repeat, unfortunately as East Carter coach Cole Brammer said, “Anytime someone hits ten 3s in the first half and doesn’t slow in the second, that’s hard to beat.”
The Cougars opened the game on fire offensively, building a 20-8 lead at the 1:15 mark. That edge grew to as many as eighteen in the first period. The Raiders trimmed down the deficit to twelve points by the end of the first quarter, leaving the Cougars up 22-10.
“They have that ability, that’s part of their DNA,” said Brammer of the Cougars game-long display of offensive efficiency.
The Cougars showed keened awareness in scoring on five offensive rebounds as they continued their hot streak in the second frame.
“We gave up a few offensive rebounds there early in the game,” said Brammer.
“Offensive rebounds will kill a game fast,” he continued.
Evan Goodman closed out the first half with a triple to send the teams into intermission.
Preston Hoskins and Cameron Adams led the Cougar’s first half offensive spurt with six 3-balls to send Morgan County into halftime with a 43-21 advantage.
The Cougars first half momentum seamlessly transitioned into the second half as they began the quarter on a 7-0 run. Adams cashed in his fourth three of the night and a pair of baskets from Gatlin and Eli Griffith pushed their lead to 23.
The Raider’s upped their offensive ante in the third frame, managing to get within twenty points twice, but a series of runs — each with a heavy dosage of Hoskins and Adams — allowed Griffith’s squad to keep its distance.
By the time the final buzzer sounded Morgan County would be up 33 points courtesy of an 81-48 final score, booking the Cougar’s regional trip to Morehead State University in emphatic fashion.
It’s pick-your-poison when it comes to the Cougars’ balanced offense.
Hoskins led the Cougars with 22 points — including four 3-pointers — while Adams contributed 18 points, followed by G. Griffith with 16 points.
Brammer was proud of his team, although, he didn’t think it was their best 32 minutes of basketball.
“We didn’t play our best tonight, but our season is not over,” said Brammer of his Raider squad. “We ran into a team tonight that was firing on all cylinders.”
“We will rest up and regroup to get back to the drawing board tomorrow,” he added.
Blake Hall tallied 14 points to lead the Raiders, Goodman and Ty Scott chipped in ten points apiece, and Connor Skaggs and Gavin Sexton finished with six points each.
East Carter returns to action on Thursday against the Boyd County Lions in the first round of the 16th Region Tournament.
Morgan County hopes to carry this momentum into a monumental showdown with top-ranked Ashland on Wednesday, a 74-67 runner-up to Boyd County in the 64th District Tournament.
Morgan County – 22 21 21 17- 81
East Carter – 10 11 10 17 – 48
Morgan County (81)-, Hoskins 22, Adams 18, Gatlin Griffith 16, Justice 9, Eli Griffith 8, Logan Spencer 5, Joe Spencer 3. FG Pct: 54.9. FT Pct: 63.2. 3-Pointers: 48.1. (Eli Griffith 1-3, Adams 4-7, Hoskins 4-10, Gatlin Griffith 4-5, Logan Spencer 1-1, Joe Spencer 1-1). Fouled out: G. Griffith. Turnovers:10.
East Carter (48) – Hall 14, Goodman 10, Ty Scott 10, Skaggs 6, Tate Scott 1, Sexton 6. FG Pct:28.2. FT Pct: 60.0. 3-Pointers: 33.0% (). Fouled out: None. Turnovers:14.