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December 26, 2013

Second-Half Slowdown Lets Eagles Slip by SCR-I

Jacob Blessing lofts up the floating shot after weaving through the Knox County defense as Bailey Johnston seals the lane.

The start was fine, but the finish left something to desire for Scotland County on Friday night in Memphis as Knox County overcame an early deficit to hand the Tigers their first conference loss of the season.

Bailey Johnston got things rolling for the home team with a basket on an offensive rebound. Jacob Blessing and Brice Cowell converted on fast break opportunities before Lucas Howard made back-to-back field goals to put SCR-I up 10-4 midway through the first period. But the Tigers managed just a pair of free throws over the next four minutes and Knox County trimmed the deficit to 12-9.

The lead shrank to one to start the second period before Johnston scored in the paint. The Eagles pulled even but Howard took the lead back for the Tigers with a score in the post. Cowell gave the Tigers some breathing room with back-to-back scores. The margin grew as big as six points when Howard snatched an offensive rebound and put it back in for two points.

But the Eagles scored seven points in the final minute of the first half to pull ahead 28-27 at the intermission.

Cowell and Johnston handled all the scoring in the third period for Scotland County. Unfortunately for the home squad it was just eight points. Cowell scored on a rebound to make the score 36-35 in favor of the visitors. Knox then closed out the third period with a 6-0 run to push the deficit to 42-35 with just eight minutes to play.

Howard tried to bring his team back in the final period. He had six straight points for SCR-I, but SCR-I still trailed 49-41 with 4:47 on the clock.

The Tigers full-court press gave the team the momentum after a pair of turnovers turned into fast break points for Blessing and Johnston, forcing a Knox County timeout with 3:03 left to play and the lead trimmed to 51-47.

Johnston brought SCR-I within two points with a basket off an inbounds play, but the Tigers were unable to convert much offense in the final minute and 20 seconds.

Zach Doubet scored on an offensive rebound with 11.1 ticks left on the clock to make it a one-possession game at 54-51. SCR-I had a chance to tie the game. Cowell made the front end of a 1-1 free throw opportunity with six seconds left to play. He intentionally missed the second but the Tigers were whistled for a foul crashing the boards for the must-have rebound. Knox County put the game away with two free throws to make the final score 56-52.

Howard and Cowell each finished with 15 points to lead the Tigers in scoring. Johnston added 14 points for SCR-I, which dropped to 4-3 on the year and 2-1 in the Tri-Rivers Conference.

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