WCHS Warriors close out season with loss to Blue Raiders

By | February 28, 2019 9:46 am

A superb season came to a close, on Tuesday night, as the Warriors fell to the Cleveland Blue Raiders in a tough road loss.

White County got behind early and could never string together a run to get back into the game. The Warriors’ 45-67 loss is their largest of the year and their only loss of 20 points or more.

On the opening possession of the first quarter, David Kinser finished at the rim off a smooth pass from Grant Slatten. This gave the Warriors their only lead of the game at 2-0. From there, the Blue Raiders took off as the Warriors struggled to keep up with the speed of the opposing guards. A potent blend of solid shot selection and aggressive finishes bolstered Cleveland who scored with ease on the visiting Warriors. Defense played a key role in the period as White County was never able to get into their sets due to constant pressure. The Warriors coughed up the ball on many occasions, which led to smooth baskets on the other end for the Raiders. As the quarter dragged on, White County High School resorted to one-on-one matchups for their scoring. While this worked momentarily, they could not create enough space and ended up settling for poorly selected shots. At the end of the quarter, they trailed 12-21.

More of the same followed in the second as the boys never really found their footing and continued to struggle. They could not string together stops and continued to fall behind but did flash a few signs of life. With 4:23 until halftime, Slatten drove down the right baseline, dunking with authority over two defenders. While the highlight was jaw-dropping, the Warriors still found themselves down 15-28 and did not collapse into the paint fast enough to help on the cutting Raider players on the other end. They also continued to turn over the ball, which handed an almost guaranteed bucket into the hands of their opponent. The Raiders forced nine turnovers in the first half and scored as a result of every one of them. Heading into halftime, the Warriors trailed 24-41.

In the third quarter White County could not stop the bleeding on defense. The first four baskets of the second half came off of finishes in the paint for the Blue Raiders as the Warriors failed to make a dent in the scoreboard. They simply could not keep up with the quickness of Cleveland’s guards who rushed to the rim at will with startling speed. Effort waned as WCHS had the end of their season in sight, thanks to an unrelenting performance by the Raiders. Cleveland grabbed several offensive rebounds around Warrior defenders in the final minutes of the third and capitalized on their second chance opportunities as they rode a huge 55-35 lead into the final quarter.

The final quarter of White County’s season was uneventful as both teams knew who would come out on top, and the final minutes needed only run out. With 5:35 remaining, the Warriors cut the Cleveland lead to 16 off a speedy Kade Clark pass to Kinser who finished on the right block, but they quickly allowed another layup on the other end and pulled their rotation player. With the game winding down, the ends of both benches were subbed in and the game came to a close with the Warriors having lost 45-67.

Slatten led the Warriors with 11 points, and Clark also got into double figures with 10. Kegan Dodson tacked on eight off the bench, and Dyson Reece added 6. The Warriors shot 12 of 24 (50 percent) from two-point range and 4 of 12 from three (33 percent). They also shot 9 of 13 on their foul shots (69 percent). Cleveland landed 20 of their 46 twos (43 percent) and 5 of their 15 long range attempts (33 percent) as the volume of shots taken clearly impacted their win. They also hit 12 of 18 free throws (66 percent) on their way to a blowout win. The Warriors lost the rebound battle by a landslide (37-15) and also turned over the ball a few more times than the Blue Raiders (14-12).

The Warriors finished their season with a 23-9 record and will have most of their team back for the 2019-20 season. Seniors Kinser, Reece and Clayton Gilbert will depart the team, but the rest of the group will be back for another highly anticipated season at Roy Sewell Gymnasium.

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