By Matt Fultz - CNHI News Service
Dec. 25, 2013 —
A contested corner three-pointer wasn’t the play called by East Carter Coach Brandon Baker when he took a timeout trailing by two with fewer than 45 seconds remaining in regulation.
The coach did, however, call what was about to transpire on the ensuing possession.
“That wasn’t the play we called,” he said. “But one thing that we stressed was that someone has to be ready to make a play out of the offense, because I knew they were going to come out and make us score on something outside of our offense.”
After Cameron Sparks found his drive to the basket cut off, he was able to find Bradley Marsh in the deep right-hand corner.
The senior, who was ready just as his coach had instructed, caught and launched his go-ahead three-pointer all in one motion.
Marsh’s second triple of the game put the Raiders up 55-54, and they went on to win 57-54 over Lawrence County in the championship game of the 9th Annual Raceland Derby Classic. The Bulldogs won the tournament a year ago.
“We love the tournament down here, we sure do,” Baker said. “It’s a tremendous tournament. It is very well run and organized, plus it keeps us home for Christmas, so we definitely enjoy coming here.”
While East Carter (5-4) was able to execute down the stretch, the Bulldogs had a bit of trouble holding onto the ball. Lawrence County turned it over two times in the final 40 seconds, and could not manage to get a clean look at the basket on its final possession, as Austin Chaffins' heavily contested tying three-point try went begging off the front of the iron as time expired.
“We have really been beating them up in practice about being committed on the defensive end, and not just for four or five plays or when your man has the ball,” Baker said. “We were just very fortunate to come up with some balls down there late.”
The Raiders’ man-to-man defense gave the young Lawrence County backcourt trouble all night long, forcing the Bulldogs into 22 turnovers.
“We wanted to play more zone, but we just got locked in there with our man,” Baker said. “They are going to score the ball and sometimes you have to just match baskets with them to keep pace. And if you are fortunate enough to turn them over, you have to capitalize, and I think that was the key to the game.”
When the Bulldogs (7-2) did manage to hold onto the ball, they didn’t have much trouble scoring, especially in the first have when they were 14-of-19 from the field. While the shooting did cool off a bit in the second half, Lawrence County still shot a healthy percentage on the game finishing at 55.8 percent.
Chaffins led Lawrence County with 17 points, including a perfect 9-for-9 performance at the free-throw line.
Grant Kiser added a double-double for the Bulldogs, finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Connor Greene led the Raider offense, which got off to a slow start for the second consecutive night only to rebound nicely, with 18 points. Sparks also reached double figures with 13 points.