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The Owen County Rebels diminished Carroll County’s hopes of reaching the 31st District championship, defeating the Panthers 56-33 in Owenton Thursday night. The Panthers finished the season with a record of 14-14, the most wins for the boys’ team since the 2005-06 season when they finished 15-15. This year’s squad was 7-12 in the region and 3-9 in districts.
Down 10-0 early, the Panthers went on a 7-3 run to end the first quarter. In the second, Dallas Gibson hit Austin Crowell cutting to the basket for a layup. This four-point differential would be as close as Carroll would get all night.
Owen rattled off eight straight before Jay Damron stole the ball from an Owen player and dished it to Brandon Stewart for a layup, 21-11. At halftime, Carroll was still within striking distance, 23-13.
Turnovers and missed shots squandered Carroll’s chances for a comeback. The Panthers did not score until the 2:07 mark when they spread the floor and let Damron take on a defender one-on-one. Owen was charged with goaltending, 30-15.
Brandon Stewart gave the Panthers’ one final spark, hitting a 3-pointer from the volleyball line between half court and the 3-point line as time expired in the third quarter, 36-20. Carroll scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late as Owen piled on 20 in the final eight minutes and moved on to the district championship against Gallatin County. The Rebels defeated the Wildcats 67-58 Saturday to become 31st District champs for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Coming in to the game, Panthers’ head coach Carroll Yager said he wanted to keep his defense tight and make the Rebels shoot from the perimeter. The Panthers held Conference Player of the Year Sawyer Williams in check by playing tough defense and making him earn points from the free throw line. Williams logged just one field goal and was 8-16 from the line for 10 points.
However, the Panthers struggled keeping the Rebels off the boards. In one sequence early in the second quarter, the Rebels collected four offensive rebounds in a row before Zach Ripy finally put the ball in the basket. “We’d have liked to do a better job rebounding,” Yager said. “But they’re big and they rebound well. That’s one of their strengths. We weren’t able to take that strength away.”
The Rebels held leading scorer Gibson to just three points, one field goal in the first quarter and 1-2 from the line. “They really focused on him,” Yager said. “They’ve got the player of the year (Williams) there going against him, and he’s bigger than Dallas and stronger and a lot of Dallas’s game is against the basket. So that’s why we were trying to move him out on the floor and get him making some cuts and things like that.” Unfortunately, he picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and had to watch his teammates from the bench for most of the remainder.
The Rebels hit four 3-pointers to the Panthers’ three and had four players in double-figures, with Justin Shelton leading the way with 14 points. Stewart was the high-scorer for Carroll with 12 points.
Yager said he wanted to try and spread Owen out and do some back cutting and curl screens, but the team did not execute very well, which he attributedto Owen’s defense. As the game progressed and with his team down double-digits, he switched to a more up-tempo style, hoping for a comeback. “We couldn’t play the way we wanted to play to try and come back,” he said. “We need to be with them or close, not trying to play from way behind.”
The Panthers graduate four seniors – Travis Ellis, Evan Mefford, John Perry and John Walls – but will return four of their five starters next season.
“They need to remember this and grow. We’ve talked all year about how we need to grow, and I think we did,” Yager said. “When I went back and watched films from the early part of the year to now, it doesn’t look like the same team. What they’ve got to realize now is the off-season is the time that they’ve got to pass other people. … During the season, most teams practice two hours every day, so everybody’s going about two hours. In the summer, it’s open game. It’s how much somebody really wants to develop. So I’m hoping that they will have a good work ethic during the off-season to come back and be excited about next season.”
Carroll County (33)
Stewart 12, Crowell 6, Damron 5, Gibson 3, Mefford 3, Boles 2, Adams 2.
Gallatin County (56)
Shelton 14, Ripy 12, Osborne 11, S. Williams 10, Taylor 4, Ball 3, McDaniels 2.
Carroll County 7 6 7 13_33
Walton-Verona 13 10 13 20_56