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The Shelby County boys’ basketball teams lost a pair of games – including one on a last-second shot – during the weekend to remain winless this season.
The Rockets’ 62-60 loss to Atherton in the Mike Casey Classic on Saturday night, however, actually was encouraging to first-year Shelby County Coach Jason Couch.
“I thought it was the best four quarters we’ve put together so far,” said Couch, whose team also lost, 71-58, at Mercer County on Friday night. “We had a great effort.”
Mercer County 71, Shelby County 58
In Harrodsburg, the Rockets jumped out to an early lead but couldn’t hold on.
Shelby County scored the first six points of the game and likely could’ve had a larger lead if not for some missed shots and free throws.
“We literally should’ve been up fourteen to two early,” Couch said.
The host Titans (3-1), however, rallied to lead, 11-9, at the end of the first quarter, and they opened up a double-digit lead in the second period, when fouls began to mount for the Rockets. Still, Shelby County closed out the first half by trimming Mercer County’s lead to single digits (33-26).
Any momentum the Rockets gained, though, disappeared at the start of the second half when the Titans scored on their first two possessions and Shelby County came up empty on its opening two possessions.
“We didn’t recover very well from that,” Couch said.
Junior guard Kipp Moore scored a team-high 14 points, and sophomore forward Jacob Gowin tallied 12 for the Rockets, who were outscored, 38-32, in the second half. Sophomore forward Kemar Mason added eight points, and sophomore guard Zander Weeks seven off the bench for Shelby County, which shot 35.8 percent (19 or 53) from the field and was just 18-of-35 (51.4 percent) from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile Mercer County, which got a game-high 17 points from freshman guard Will Hager, made 24 of its 35 free-throw tries.
Atherton 62, Shelby County 60
Senior center Chandler Stanke’s 18-foot jumper at the buzzer gave the Rebels (2-3) the victory in the Casey Classic in Casey Gym.
Shelby County led Atherton, 16-15, at the end of the first quarter before the Rebels rallied to take a 33-29 lead at halftime. Atherton opened up a 9-point lead late in the third quarter before the Rockets rallied.
“It seems like every game there’s that stretch where the other team makes that run, and we’ve kind of succumbed to it,” Couch said. “This time, though, we immediately just came right back.”
Shelby County briefly took the lead in the fourth quarter. A steal and dunk gave the Rebels the lead with less than a minute to go, but senior forward Michael Barry tied it up with a pair of free throws with 12 seconds to play.
Atherton missed a shot on its ensuing possession but got the rebound. After a timeout, with 2.5 seconds to play, Stanke took the inbounds pass and buried the game-winning shot.
“The reason he was open was because our guys did a fantastic job in covering up their first three options,” Couch said. “I was proud of them. That’s just part of it some times.”
Barry led the Rockets with 11 points, and Moore and Gowin added 10 apiece.
Shelby County (0-5) plays at Collins at 7:30 p.m. Friday.