|Indians fail to finish in tough opening season loss
By Dan Manley
Advocate Sports Editor
MOREHEAD—After a terrible start in their season-opening game Monday night the Montgomery County Indians rallied to take a five-point lead in the second half.
But in the end, the Vikings’ Clay Sizemore was just too much for the Tribe to handle as Rowan County rallied to claim a 51-49 victory at the Warren Cooper Gymnasium.
“We did a lot of good things,” said Coach Matt Daniel. “I liked our energy and our defensive effort, we just didn’t make enough shots.”
Montgomery County connected on just six of 21 field goals in the first half and ended up just three of 17 from behind the three-point line, numbers that even a good defensive effort couldn’t overcome.
The Vikings made five of their first six field goal attempts, three of them by 6-1 senior guard Clay Sizemore, and held an early 11-2 lead.
Then the Indians, with junior guard Jon Kosier hitting the Tribe’s only three-pointer of the first half and also connecting on three free throws when fouled on a three-point attempt, rallied to within a 21-20 count at halftime.
Early in the third quarter it was senior guard Paul Wise who drove to the basket for a three-point play and then sinking a three-pointer to the right of the key who helped the Indians build a 28-23 lead.
But the Vikings erased that in a matter of seconds on a three-pointer by junior guard Ryan Mullen, his only points of the night, and then a basket inside by senior Tate Johnson.
Montgomery County did move back out to a 34-30 lead at the end of the third quarter and then led 41-36 near the midway point of the final quarter before Sizemore took over.
Sizemore scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the final period and his three-pointer on a tip-out after his team missed a free throw snapped a 43-43 tie with just 2:10 to play and the Vikings didn’t trail after that.
The Indians did keep the pressure on with Wise driving for another three-point play with 23 seconds on the clock to cut the lead to 48-46.
Then Tyler Gardner hit a pair of free throws only to have a Tucker Norris three-pointer bring the Tribe to within 50-49 with :11.6 on the clock.
Sizemore was fouled with :08.8 remaining and made just one of two free throws.
On the final possession, Wise was fouled as he attempted to get a shot off from the top of the circle but there was no call and the Vikings walked away with a 51-49 victory.
Shooting certainly ended up as the difference as the Indians out-rebounded the Vikings 28-24 and had just seven turnovers while Rowan County committed six.
The Indians were playing without the services of junior guard Deuce Ralls who was sitting out a one-game suspension handed down by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association because he played in an unauthorized game with an AAU team.
Pharoah Davis, just off the football field with just a few practices under his belt, had five points and five rebounds before he fouled out.
Wise, who had missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, stepped right back in like a veteran, scoring 11 points, with two rebounds, two assists and a steal while playing more than 24 minutes without a turnover.
“A real bright spot and he’s only going to get better,” said Daniel.
Inside players, junior Will Cockrell and senior Hayden Chism, combined to make seven of 12 shots but simply didn’t get enough chances.
Senior Evan King played well off the bench, sharing rebounding honors with five in 17 minutes of playing time.
Montgomery County will return to action Friday night when they host state semifinalist Scott High at 6 p.m. at the MCHS Arena in the first game of a boy-girl doubleheader with the Lady Indians taking on Pendleton County in the nightcap.