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By David Sharp
Knox County (4-7) mounted a furious fourth quarter rally, outscoring Clark County (4-7) by a 20-9 fourth quarter margin for a 40-37 win during January 5, 2023 boys consolation semifinal play of the 51st Annual Highland Tournament.
Keaton Strange tossed in a buzzer beating three point shot for the winning margin. Knox County got all seven of their first quarter points from senior guard Rylan Roberts. The Eagles led 7-6 after one period of play.
Clark County took advantage of Knox County turnovers for a 12-2 second quarter run to an 18-9 halftime lead. Knox County started their second half rally with an 11-10 third quarter to a 28-20 Clark County lead after three periods.
Carter Briscoe fired in an Indian three for the final third quarter points. Boden Kleine finished a five shot Clark County opportunity for a 30-20 Indian lead. Knox County fought back into the game. Keaton Strange scored with 1:49 remaining for a 37-35 Clark County lead.
Kellen Parrish tied the game at 37 with 61 seconds showing on the clock. Kellen Parrish scored two baskets in the fourth quarter by gaining possession under the rim. Each team had scoring chances down the stretch. Knox County got possession with around five seconds to play in regulation time.
Keaton Strange got the ball at the top of the key as time ran down. Strange found the range for the 40-37 Knox County win.
“The games aren’t pretty, but you have to work as a team,” Knox County senior Keaton Strange said. “Defense is where it all starts. You have to keep the other team from scoring before you can.”
“All that was going through my head was stopping them from scoring and get the ball back.”
Carter Briscoe led all scorers with 14 Clark County points. Conner Pearl scored seven Indian points. Boden Kleine put in six points. Harrison Parker scored five Clark County points. Drayson Daniels added three Indian points.
“I thought we battled in the first half,” Clark County coach Dennis Dent said. “We played really well in the second quarter. Hats off to Coach Miller and Knox. They responded really well.”
“They made a lot of adjustments. The guys hustled for them down the stretch,” Coach Dent said. “They played smarter basketball than we did in the fourth quarter. They turned the basketball over less than we did in the fourth quarter.”
“It was a tale of two halves. They are a good team that matches up with just about anybody,” Dennis Dent said. “And they play hard. They execute. We did not do that down the stretch when we need to.”
“Keaton Strange hit a big shot at the end. Four seconds left, that’s a big shot to take. Hats off to them. They finished.”
Rylan Roberts led Knox County with 13 points. Kellen Parrish was in double figures with 11 points. Collin Hayes scored eight points. Keaton Strange put in five points. Blake Parrish added three KCHS points.
“Good teams are resilient. They have a next play mentality,” Knox County coach Nathan Miller said. “We exemplified that tonight. We had a less than ideal first half offensively.”
“Defensively we were sound. Holding a team like that to 18 points in the first half, I thought we did a really good job,” Coach Miller said. “We can’t have that type of performance in the first half.”
Knox County won despite being limited to nine points in the first half. Two in the second quarter. Neither teams shot free throws particularly well. Knox County was 7-17 from the line. Clark County sank three of nine free throws on the night.
The Indians held an 11-8 edge in made field goals. Knox County sank five three balls and Clark County four. Knox County closed on a game winning 20-9 run.
“That doesn’t matter. The reality is we did what we needed to do to get a W,” Nathan Miller said. “We put ourselves in situations where some teams would fold, and that’s huge for us.”
“Moments like this is when good teams show. And we did that.”