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The Trimble County Raiders split two games at home over the weekend, playing perennial powerhouse Oldham County close on Friday and surviving another close outing on Saturday against Western Hills. Trimble fell to Oldham by a score of 81-71 but held off a determined Western Hills team by a score of 67-62.
In the Oldham game—the nightcap of a boys’/girls’ varsity double-header—the Colonels threatened to pull away early, jumping out to an eight-point, 22-14 lead after a quarter of play. Trimble battled back in the second frame to take a 30-29 advantage into the halftime locker room. The pendulum of momentum swung in Oldham’s direction during the second half as the Colonels overcame the deficit to front by five after three quarters en route to the 10-point win.
“Oldham County is a real good defensive team,” Trimble Coach Johnny Leep III observed following the game. “Last year they gave up 47 points a game. This year they’re giving up 47.2, and 51 is most anybody has scored against them so we did a good job.”
Leading the Raiders’ offensive effort was sophomore Evan Long who canned five shots from long range and was perfect in four trips to the charity stripe en route to 21 points.
“Evan Long is going to be scary in this region for a long time,” Leep said. “He shot the lights out of it tonight. I’d like to continue to see him doing that. Robbie Brooks attacked the rim really well tonight. We’ve really been working on him doing that.” Brooks ended the game with 14 points. Michael Dunaway scored 13, Ethan Merrill added 12, Andrew Young six and Dusty Wyssbrod added five.
“Michael Dunaway is monstrous on the glass,” Leep said. I would venture to say he had between 15 and 20 rebounds tonight.
“We’re trying to develop a culture where it doesn’t matter who you play—the best team on your schedule or the worst team on your schedule—you always want to play the same way,” Leep said. “You respect every opponent and you want to battle them for 32 minutes. If we can instill that in the kids then Trimble County basketball will be in the right direction for a long time.”
Both teams shot exceptionally well at the free throw line, Trimble hit 76 percent and Oldham 75 percent of their free tosses. Oldham connected on 56 percent of its field goal attempts to Trimble’s 49 percent. The taller Colonels held only a slight rebounding advantage, 24-23.
“I was super proud of their effort,” Leep said of his Raiders. “We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be. We just don’t want to play these games close, we don’t want moral victories. The guys aren’t satisfied with that. They were dejected with the loss and they’re hungry to come back and play again tomorrow night.”
On Saturday Leep had anticipated that the Western Hills Wolverines would be “very similar to what Oldham County brings” and was concerned that with a short bench “back-to-back games might be kind of tough for us.”
The two teams were well-matched as they stood knotted at 14-14 after the first eight minutes of play. The Wolverines fronted 34-33 at halftime. Trimble led 48-44 after three quarters of play and survived several onslaughts during the final eight minutes to hold onto the five-point margin of victory.
“That’s a really good win against a quality opponent from the 11th Region,” Leep said following the win. “Both teams were a little lackadaisical early. We played last night and they had a long road trip here and it was a pretty even game.”
Although Trimble’s overall performance at the charity stripe was not even close to Friday’s effort against Oldham the Raiders converted the free tosses down the stretch when they most needed them
“Michael (Dunaway) stepped up to make some huge free throws there at the end and so did Dusty Wyssbrod,” Leep said. “That’s the type of game that we haven’t been in a lot. We either blow somebody out or we get blown out. It gave us an opportunity to feel that pressure and I thought they did outstanding. We played a game like that earlier against Eminence where we had to hit free throws down the stretch so I think that prepared us for tonight.”
Leep had some concern prior to the game over the smaller crowd compared to Friday’s double-header.
“The kids were really hyped up last night, the band was here and the crowd,” he said. “Then you come in here tonight and it’s not the same atmosphere but as a player you’ve still got to get up and play. I told them in the locker room you can’t have any letdown no matter who your opponent is or what the environment is like.”
Senior guard Robbie Brooks led all scorers with 26 points for Trimble County. Dunaway tossed in 17, Merrill added nine and three players—Evan Long, Wyssbrod and Andrew Young—each scored five.
“He’s been in bed all day throwing up with the flu,” Leep said of Brooks. “He played 31 minutes tonight, 26 points and I’d venture to say eight or nine assists so I can’t be more happy for any kid. He went on his own time this summer to the point guard college. He leads the workouts. He’s the first guy in the gym and the last guy to leave. He takes all the kids home that don’t have rides after practice. He’s a 4.0 student who’s going to be a doctor. That’s Trimble County Raider basketball—he embodies everything that we’re about.”
Trimble, now 3-4 on the season, travels to the Maysville, Ky., area on an overnight trip this weekend to play Deming—a Class A school on Friday and St. Patrick on Saturday night.