Grabbing a lead midway through the first period, the Butler County Bears steadily pulled away from Grayson County’s Cougars to win their second straight 12th District Tournament championship, 75-63 last Friday evening in Morgantown.
The Bears got scoring from just their five starters, but three of those scored in the twenties. Zeke Woodcock led all scorers in the game with 24 points, while Caleb Deweese had 22 and Zack Burden scored 21. All three Bear players were named to the 12th District All-Tournament team, along with teammate Trevor Jenkins.
For the Cougars, junior Talon Gary hit three three-pointers and finished with 19 points, 16 of which came in the second half. Joining Gary in double figures was junior Alex Shellhart with 17 points. Both players, along with sophomore Colton Williams, were named to the All-Tourney team.
The action was fast and furious in a first period that saw five lead changes. A Cole Akridge lay-in at the 5:19 mark gave the Cougars their largest lead of the game, five points at 8-3.
Shellhart scored on a put-back basket with 3:47 left in the opening period to give the Cougars a 10-9 lead. That would be their final lead of the night. Grayson County would not score the rest of the period while the Bears scored the final seven points to take a 16-10 lead into the second quarter.
Burden hit a 10-foot runner at the 5:44 mark to give the Bears an eight-point lead, 21-13, but the Cougars responded with six straight to make it a two-point game, 21-19 with 3:16 remaining. Grayson County would never be closer.
The Bears held the Cougars scoreless the rest of the period and scored 12 unanswered points to take a 14-point lead, 33-19 into the halftime break.
Burden hit back-to-back 10 footers that gave the Bears a 16-point lead, 51-35 with 1:23 left in the third quarter, but the Cougars fought back, closing out the period with seven straight to cut their deficit to nine points heading into the fourth quarter.
Two Gary free throws with 6:07 left to play cut the lead to seven points, 55-48, but the Bears responded with a 12-3 run to push their lead back up to 16 points, 67-51 and put the game out of reach of the Cougars with under four minutes left in the game.
In addition to his 17 points, Shellhart led the Cougars on the glass with nine rebounds, just missing a double-double night. Tanner Tyra had a good night for the Cougars, scoring nine points and adding five rebounds and four assists.
Cole Akridge scored seven points, while brother Gage and senior Bret Johnston had four apiece. Gage added four rebounds, and Johnston had three assists. Williams finished his night with three points and three rebounds.
Others named to the All-Tournament Team were Nathaniel Mills and Daniel Morris, from Whitesville Trinity, and Chase Turley and Michael Poteet, from Edmonson County.
Named to the 12th District All-Academic Team were Bret Johnston, from Grayson County, Jacob Hook, from Whitesville, Branden Hinkley, from Edmonson County, and Trevor Jenkins, from Butler County.
Those named to the 12th District Regular-Season team were Dakota Wathen and Skyler Dickens, from Whitesville, Dakota Woodcock and Austin Sowders, from Edmonson County, Talon Gary and Cole Akridge, from Grayson County, and Zack Burden and Zeke Woodcock, from Butler County.
The severe weather over the weekend has thrown a monkey wrench into the 3rd Region Tournament, originally scheduled to begin Monday and Tuesday evening this week with girls first-round games at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
As of press time on Tuesday, the tournament was to begin Wednesday evening with two first-round girls games. The Lady Cougars, 12th District champions, were scheduled to play Apollo Thursday night at 7:45 p.m. The Cougars were scheduled to meet Hancock County on Saturday at 12 noon.