OWINGSVILLE At the end, Gatlin Griffith was winded.

“Very tired,” Elliott County's sophomore guard said.

Griffith and the Lions nonetheless had sufficient energy to take Thursday's 59-56 win over Estill County in Thursday's third-place game in the Dan Swartz Classic at Bath County.

Griffith's offensive contributions were many: 22 points, five rebounds, five assists. His last bucket – a layup plus free throw with 22.5 seconds to go – gave the Lions their winning margin.

“We played very well,” Griffith said.

His last two assists were equally important: a drive in the paint that became a pass to Nathaniel Buckner with a little less than four minutes, which gave the Lions a 51-50 lead; and the pass to Cameron Adams with 54 seconds remaining for a 56-53 lead.

You could also say Griffith's defense was more important: he drew a charge with 2:30 to go in the game that kept the Lions ahead 56-53.

Elliott County's 40-26 second-half rally was as diametrically opposite as the Lions' first 16 minutes.

Estill County (5-6) took a 10-2 lead in a little more than four minutes. Elliott County (7-2) didn't make a field goal until Buckner's with 2:46 left.

The Engineers later led 26-12 on Tyler Brewer's 3-pointer late in the second.

“That was about as ugly a first half as we've played in quite a while,” Elliott County coach Gereg Adkins said.

You could say Elliott County's comeback started late in the second stanza. Gatlin Griffith's twin brother Eli's three points, Gatlin's two and Buckner's two free throws pulled the Lions to within 28-19; Estill County, meanwhile, was scoreless for nearly two minutes.

Buckner and Eli Griffith (11 points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals) started the third quarter with a bucket apiece. Then, a long-distance assist – Eli Griffith's 30-foot bounce pass to Adams for the layup.

Adams followed with a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Gatlin Griffith's and-1. The result: Lions, 31-30, with 4:19 left in the third.

And Estill County? Nothing until Elliot Hardy's two free throws more than four minutes in, and nary a field goal until Kenny Rose's 3 with 3:15 left; the Engineers trailed by just 45-43 on Kade Benton's seven points over the final two minutes.

ELLIOTT CO.    8    11    26    14    —    59

ESTILL CO.    17    13    13    13    —    56

Elliott Co. (59) — E. Griffith 11, Adams 8, Whitley 7, G. Griffith 22, Buckner 11. 3-Pt. FG: 4 (Adams 2, Whitley, G. Griffith). FT: 17-22. Fouls: 13.

Estill Co. (56) — Benton 16, Hardy 6, Rose 7, Willis 7, Beeler 12, Brewer 3, Riddell 5. 3-Pt. FG: 8 (Benton 3, Beeleer 2, Rose, Willis, Brewer). FT: 10-13. Fouls: 20.

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