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The Shelby County boys' basketball team trailed Gallatin County for 7 minutes and 54 seconds of the fourth quarter in the 8th Region Championship game Wednesday at Gallatin County.
But Coty Minnis cleaned up a missed shot and drew a foul on the play with just 6 seconds remaining. Minnis calmly stepped to the line and drained the foul shot, giving the Rockets a 49-48 lead.
When Gallatin County's three-point attempt missed, the Shelby County celebration engulfed the court.
The rebound and three-point play was Minnis' second inside the final 20 seconds.
Although he was held to just two points over the first three quarters of play, the senior forward said he knew he couldn't give up. Facing a barrage of double and triple teams, Minnis turned his work to the boards, cleaning up missed shots and grabbing key rebounds as the Rockets' rallied.
"I knew I had to step up and fight through it," he said. "(Gallatin County) did the same thing to me in the first game. I didn't come back in that game, but I couldn't shut down tonight. Like all the teams we played this year, they were doubling me, so I just had to go to the boards to get post position. I wanted to show my team that I could lead them to Rupp."
Minnis finished the game with 15 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, to lead Shelby County, and Tim Sanford added 12.
SCHS head coach Mike Clark said his team showed its true colors after trailing for most of the second half.
"This team may not be the most talented or most skilled team that I've coached, but they have more heart, more grit and more determination than any group I've been around," he said. "These kids willed us to victory (Wednesday)."
Clark said that Minnis' work in the fourth quarter came as no surprise.
"He came through like the All-state player we think he is," he said. "Rebounding, defending, scoring, he does it all."
Gallatin County tried to slow the game down throughout the first half. On nearly every possession the Wildcats milked time off the clock, standing with the ball instead of attacking the Rockets' zone defense. With that strategy, the first half was very low scoring with the Rockets leading 17-14 at the break.
"We thought they'd try to attack our zone differently than they did," Clark said. "They're a team that likes to play at quicker tempo, and they didn't slow it down the first time we met."
However, the second half quickened to a pace better suited for Shelby County.
But it took nearly the full 36 minutes to decide the game.
"We had to scramble and coach every possession at the end," Clark said. "We were phenomenal in our last second situations. We got several key contributions off our bench, and Coty was just fantastic down the stretch."
Minnis, Alex Matthews and Tim Sanford represented Shelby County on the All-8th Region team.
Sweet 16 Tickets
Shelby County High School will be selling tickets for the Rockets' Sweet 16 first-round game against Lincoln County. Tickets be on sale Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
The tickets are $8 each and there is a limit of four per customer.
The Rockets will play Lincoln County on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena.