Jan. 16, 2013 — In keeping up with the norm in the series between East Carter and Morgan County, it's the “knockout punches” in a boxing match for either team to come away with a victory.
It was no different in Grayson Friday night, but the Cougars came up with the knockout, surviving 59-56 after the Raiders rally came up empty. Four technical fouls were issued and four players fouled out of the contest.
East Carter Coach Brandon Baker was not surprised by both teams' physicality.
“Teams are very competitive and it was a hard-fought game,” Baker said. “Both teams are not going to back down and anytime you get that, you’re going to get (aggressive) play and it was just a good game.”
Aleksandar Malinic paced Morgan County (13-5) with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Freshman Jordan Perry scored 20 points with 12 of those coming from the free-throw line.
Baker said the game plan all along was to play physical down low despite the height advantage against the 6-foot-7 Serbian transfer.
“We didn’t want him to catch it deep,” Baker said. “With his size we had to give him a lot of attention, but it was tough with (Jordan) Perry on the perimeter. They like to spread you out where you have to guard a penetrator, a shooter and a post player. For the most part we did OK.”
Morgan County threw the first blow, racing out to a 16-6 lead after the first quarter. But in the second, it was the Raiders punching back with a 13-2 run in the opening four minutes. However, the Cougars led 23-22 at the break.
Senior Kyle Stewart stepped up, knocking down several big shots en route to leading his team with 16 points.
“It was a tough loss but we did get better,” Stewart said. “It’s a credit to our guys. We missed easy buckets and if we make those, it’s a different ballgame.”