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By David Sharp
“I looked at our board after the game, and I couldn’t find a single thing that we didn’t execute,” Knox County Coach Nathan Miller said after a great February 22, 2023 district basketball game with Schuyler County. “The final score says it all. When they needed them, they came down and hit some really big shots. That’s what good teams do.”
“We did exactly what we needed to do. We did everything that we could,” Nathan Miller said. “We did everything that we talked about doing. They still found a way. We still found a way to make it a game. That’s what this is about. That’s what this time of year is. It’s all about this type of environment. This type of opportunity. Games like this is what this is meant to be for.”
Schuyler County scored the last five points to win an epic contest with Knox County by a 44-43 final score. Knox County stole the ball in the final five seconds, then got a scoring chance in the lane.
The ball rattled off the rim, preserving host Schuyler County’s one point victory. The second seeded Rams (17-9) advanced to the boy’s district championship game. Top seeded Canton (16-12) claimed the District 6 championship by a 65-50 final score.
Seniors Keaton Strange, Christian Campbell, Ethan Campbell, Kellen Parrish, Rylan Roberts, Blake Parrish and Austin Jansen played their final basketball games for Knox County.
Knox County defended the lane well most of the game. The Rams responded by tossing eight three pointers through the cylinder. Knox County sank five home run balls of their own.
Rylan Roberts sank a ¾ court shot at the first quarter buzzer, trimming the Schuyler County lead to 11-7. Knox County turned the ball over on lane entry passes more often than they would have liked, especially in the first half.
The Eagles tied the game early in the second quarter. Keaton Strange sank a free throw, then hit a three ball with 6:33 showing on the second period clock for an 11 all tie.
Brody Weaver put the Rams back on top at the 6:19 mark. Keaton Strange finished a fast break for a 15-13 lead with 5:28 to play in the first half. Schuyler County tied the game at 15, despite missed scoring chances and free throws with 2:53 remaining in the half.
Knox County took a 17-15 lead to the dressing room. Schuyler County continued to deny lane entry passes. Keaton Strange drove to the hole for a 22-21 Schuyler County edge with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Brody Weaver canned a Schuyler County three then Rylan Roberts scored for a 25-24 tally at the 2:53 mark of the third quarter. Connor Smith hit a Schuyler County three for a 28-26 Ram edge after three periods of play.
Connor Smith hit another Ram home run ball for a 31-26 lead 30 seconds into the final period. Schuyler County reeled off a 5-0 run in a low scoring game. Rylan Roberts completed a three point play, capping an 8-3 Eagle run to a 32-31 lead with 6:18 remaining in regulation time.
Mason Windy and Blake Parrish traded buckets. Schuyler County got a put back for a 35-34 lead with 4:18 on the fourth quarter clock.
Collin Hayes sank one of the biggest shots of the game, a three pointer for a 41-37 KCHS lead with 3:01 to play. Keaton Strange sank two free throws for a 43-37 advantage with 2:46 remaining.
Schuyler County answered with a very similar 5-0 run. Kale Windy sank two free throws. Connor Smith may well have saved the game for Schuyler County with a three pointer for a 43-42 Knox County edge with 1:29 remaining in the game.
“It was a battle,” Schuyler County coach Chris Prewitt said. “It was back and forth all night. I expected no different. I don’t think eighter team was 100%. Every person on the floor gave 110%. Our benches were short. They ran a man press most of the time. We manned up a little bit.”
“Everybody’s legs were dead. Everybody gave it 100%. That’s what you want at a high school basketball game,” Chris Prewitt said. It was extremely fun to be part of. I’m glad we put ourselves in a position where that last shot gave us a chance to win.”
“Cooper (Amen) making a big bucket one on one down on the post. It was a great game to be part of. I feel for Knox, especially for their seniors. But I’m excited for our guys to be able to move forward and get to play for a district championship”
Cooper Amen made it a 7-0 Ram run with a basket at the 24 second mark. Knox County missed two what turned out to be key free throws. Schuyler County led 44-43 in the closing seconds.
Schuyler County inbounded the ball near the Knox County sideline with five seconds on the clock. Kellen Parrish made a great play to steal the basketball.
The Eagles got the ball on the rim. The off balance scoring try would not fall through the cylinder. Schuyler County advanced by the 44-43 final score.
“I couldn’t be more proud of those guys. Our end goal was to make it to the district championship game and win a district championship,” Nathan Miller said. “I think what we did is even bigger.”
“We set a foundation for this program for years to come. They made some big shots down the stretch,” Nathan Miller said. “We had a couple of shots to finish the game off. We had a couple of key possessions and just couldn’t capitalize on them.”
“We had a shot at the end to win the game. It was more than just that possession that separated the game,” Nathan Miller said. “We definitely came out to a slow start. It was a physical game. I don’t think we were anticipating that.”
Connor Smith led Schuyler County with 14 points. Kale Windy fired in 13 Schuyler County points. Brody Weaver scored eight points. Mason Windy put in five and Cooper Amen scored two Schuyler County points.
Knox County defended without putting Schuyler County on the free throw line most of the day. The Rams hit four of six free throws in a close game. Knox County went 6-11 from the free throw line.
Keaton Strange led Knox County with 14 points. Rylan Roberts was in double figures with 11 points. Blake Parrish put in eight points. Kellen Parrish tallied seven and Collin Hayes scored three KCHS points.
“The buy in has been amazing,” Nathan Miller said of his seven member Senior class. “We had a couple of guys that ended up coming out and stayed with it. Obviously Blake (Parrish) coming out was huge. It was great to see Christian Campbell come out (for basketball).”
“I think it was his first time out since seventh grade. He didn’t play a lot of varsity minutes, but he was just a great personality to bring to practice and everything else. To have that retention, that’s how you build a program,” Nathan Miller said.
“We have a couple of classes coming up that are a little bit smaller, but we have a good foundation that has been laid with the middle school group right now. We have got a couple of groups coming out that are going to be ready to compete at the varsity level.”