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By: Corey Stott
HUNTSVILLE, Mo.- 1/12/21- Coach Jeremy Austin knew his Scotland County Tigers (4-6) had a tall task on their hands when they travelled to Huntsville to face the Westran Hornets (12-2). The Hornets are currently ranked ninth in the state in Class 2. That proved to be the case, as the Hornets defeated the Tigers 69-46.
The Tigers raised a lot of eyebrows, as they competed toe-to-toe with the Hornets and held their own. Westran controlled the opening tip, but Scotland County got on the board first. Westran took the lead at the 5:31 mark, but the Tigers got right back on top 5-3 on the next possession with a Jared Cerroni 3-pointer.
But the Hornets answered right back and tied it at 5-5. The two teams continued to battle it out and trade the lead in a hard-nosed, very physical contest. When the dust settled at the end of the first quarter, Westran only led Scotland County 14-12.
The second quarter was a different story, as the Hornets began to aggressively crash the boards and have their way inside the paint. The physicality of the game escalated to a point where at the 3:17 mark a hard foul by Carson Harrison resulted in an intentional foul call, which was followed by a technical foul on Karter Koenig when he took exception to the contact by Harrison and tried to retaliate. The officials quickly interceded, and to both young men’s credit, they continued to compete aggressively throughout the remainder of the game with no further incident. The Hornets took a 31-21 lead into the locker room after outscoring Scotland County 17-9 in the quarter.
The second half was for the most part a continuation of the second quarter. Westran’s twin towers of 6’6” senior forward Karter Koenig and 6’5” sophomore forward Langden Kitchen took over the game and powered the Hornets as they outscored Scotland County 19-12 in the third quarter to build a 50-33 lead. A combination of turnovers and poor shots sabotaged the Tigers’ efforts at a comeback.
The final period saw both teams utilize their entire bench and Westran outscored Scotland 19-13. The Hornets proved why they’re state ranked and walked away with a 69-46 victory.
“We got pushed out of the way a lot inside,” Austin said after the game. “I didn’t think we did a good job handling the ball against their pressure and a lot of that comes from not doing a good job of getting anybody open. That puts too much pressure on our ball handlers when they don’t have anyone to pass it to.”
The Tigers didn’t get the win, but they showed that they are continuing to improve and compete better with high quality competition. “Defensively, we put in some good effort,” Austin observed. “We played hard- we just got out-matched in this game.”
Kitchen led all scorers with 21 points, and Koenig scored 12. Harrison led the Tigers with 11 points and Hamlin scored 10.
The Tigers were slated to face Salisbury at home last Friday night, but that game was postponed due to weather. The Tigers will be in action this week at the North Shelby Tournament.