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In the Collins boys’ basketball team’s first game against Anderson County in early January, the Titans were outmuscled, outhustled, outshot and outscored.
In Friday night’s rematch – in the 30th District Tournament final – Collins used an all-around team effort and a big second quarter to avenge its earlier loss to the Bearcats and capture its second consecutive district title, 63-51.
“We wanted revenge, and we wanted to cut down the nets,” Titans senior forward Dez Marshall said.
The 8th Region Player of the Year, Marshall had a season-low two points and sprained an ankle in that 55-43 loss Jan. 4 in Lawrenceburg. This time around he shook off a slow start to score 13 points and grab a game-high 10 rebounds to lead the Titans (21-7) to their 10th consecutive victory.
Sophomore point guard Brent Kidwell added 12 points, 4 assists and some solid defense on Bearcats’ sharp-shooter Austin Cummins for Collins, which played South Oldham on Tuesday night in the first round of the 8th Region Tournament at Henry County.
Senior center Terez Smith contributed nine points, all in the second half, and nine rebounds and four other players scored between six and eight points as the Titans relied on a very balanced offensive attack.
“We’re sharing the ball. We’re not worried about who is scoring. We’re just going out and playing the game,” Collins Coach Chris Gaither said.
In the first game between the two the Bearcats (22-4) led by nine points (15-6) at the end of the first quarter. Friday night the Titans trailed by nine (18-9) once again after Austin Linzy’s 3-pointer from the corner beat the first-period buzzer.
This time around, though, Collins came back, outscoring Anderson, 20-6, in the second quarter. Kidwell scored eight of his points in that period, and four of those finished off a steal.
“We stepped up our defense, especially from the last time we played them earlier this year,” he said. “Defense won us the game.”
Kidwell’s drive and layup with 1:28 to play in the first half put the Titans on top for good. Junior forward Ralphie Stone followed with a conventional 3-point play as Collins led, 29-24, at halftime.
Anderson’s Christian Estes started the second-half scoring with a steal and layup before the Titans went on a 12-2 run. Smith started the spurt with back-to-back baskets before Buddy Johnson hit a 3-pointer.
After Anderson’s Jay Smith scored off glass, Marshall hit a bank shot, then Stone knocked down one of two free throws, and Terez Smith buried a pair of foul shots to give Collins a 41-28 lead.
The Titans held the Bearcats at bay the rest of the way.
Collins shot 41.4 percent (24-for-58) from the field, including 46.4 percent (13-for-28) in the first half, and had more rebounds (35-28) including 14-7 on the offensive glass.
The Bearcats, meanwhile, shot 40.8 percent (20-for-49) and were just 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range three nights after going 11-of-15 in their 40-point, semifinal victory over Shelby County.
Meanwhile Cummins, who scored 36 points and hit nine 3-pointers against the Rockets, was held scoreless (on 0-for-5 shooting) by Kidwell.
“The plan was to let Brent guard him and try to disrupt him with our length,” Gaither said.
“I just tried to get out on him early. He’s a great shooter,” Kidwell said.
Smith scored a game-high 18 points for the Bearcats.
And although it was the second district title for the Titans, it was the first for Kidwell, who played on the junior varsity at Trinity as a freshman.
“We just have to carry this to the region and hopefully cut down the nets at region,” he said afterward.