RUSSELL Brady Burchett arguably had the biggest play in Greenup County’s district tilt with Russell Tuesday night.
With the Musketeers leading 56-55 in the final seconds of regulation, Burchett forced a Russell turnover in front of the Red Devils’ bench. One play prior, the senior blocked a shot that led to a Rodrell Dryden triple for the lead.
“I told my assistant coach (Mike) Raby, that’s the best game we’ve ever seen him play and he didn’t score one single basket,” Greenup County coach Robert Amis said of Burchett.
“Defensively, he face-guarded (Brady) Bell, worked him at half court and forced him to the side. Luckily, he slipped and gave us a chance to get that basket.”
Burchett said he just followed the words of advice from his skipper.
“I just try to sit down and guard,” he said. “Coach always tells me, ‘I don’t care if you score, just go out and guard,’ and that’s what I planned on doing.”
However, it was far from a cakewalk for the Musketeers, who had to overcome an 11-point, first half deficit to claim a 58-55 comeback victory over the Red Devils.
Greenup County (10-3, 2-1) outscored Russell 27-15 in the final eight minutes and took its first lead late in the final stanza since an 8-5 edge in the first quarter.
“(Brady) Nelson misses that free throw, but we come down and get one more stop,” Amis said. “I can’t say enough about the effort my guys gave tonight. We were down 11 at the half, nine at the break and only scored 18 points in the half. That’s not the style we like to play. In the end, we came out and hit some free throws, got to the rack and didn’t settle for 3-pointers.”
For Russell coach Tom Barrick, it was the same book, different chapter when the dust settled.
“In the last three games we’ve had a 10-point lead, a nine-point lead and an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter and we have not closed out those games in regulation and won one in overtime,” Barrick said. “When we play how we are capable of playing, we can play with anybody. But when we shoot ourselves in the foot, we’re not nearly as good as we can be.”
Russell’s final field goal came on a Griffin Downs bucket with just over 2 minutes to play in the game for a 52-47 lead. However, the Musketeers had the final say, closing with an 8-3 run for the win.
But the biggest run by the Musketeers, 12-2, came in the fourth on a Dryden dunk back off a Nelson missed jumper that electrified the Greenup County fans.
“I saw Brady shoot it and I said in my head, I’m gonna get this,” Dryden said of the tomahawk stick back. “I just banged it back.”
Nelson said following the game plan in the second half led to the style of game the Musketeers favor.
“We started playing defense, finally, and started buying into what coach was saying,” Nelson said with a grin. “Coach Amis said before the game it would be a game of runs. Our runs had to be better than (Russell). It was at the end.”
Dryden finished with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds after scoring only six at the break.
“He’s such an exceptional athlete,” Amis said of Dryden. “He times it well and jumps very well. I challenged him at halftime. I think he had only two rebounds and he made big plays. On the defensive end, he blocked a lot of shots tonight, too.”
Back-to-back triples by Greenup County gave the Musketeers an 8-5 lead midway through the first. But Russell closed on a 7-0 run for a four-point lead. The margin stayed at four until the halfway mark of the second, when Russell’s 9-0 run capped off by a Charlie Jachimczuk bucket made it 27-16. Nelson cut it to nine on a pair of free throws.
Greenup County made a defensive change to open the second half and what followed was another run that pulled the Musketeers to within three.
“We switched our lineups and went 2-2-1 back to 2-3 zone and that gave them some trouble,” Amis said. “Then we went to man and grinded it out and luckily, we were able to win this one by three points.”
However, Greenup County could not find an answer for Russell big man Charlie “Chuck” Bechtel, who produced 10 points and seven rebounds coming off the bench.
“He’s such a big load and he’s so skilled,” Amis said. “His size and touch around the rim helped them tremendously and we just don’t have a guy that size. Rod is 6-foot-5 but is usually guarding guys on the perimeter.”
Barrick was pleased to see the production in the most minutes Bechtel has played this season.
“We were fortunate that the big kid — who is a shot-blocker — was in foul trouble,” Barrick said of Dryden. “It allows Charlie to get in there and make some plays for us and I thought he played really well. He got a little winded during that stretch, but I think that’s the best he’s played this year. It was a much-needed boost for us.”
Six of Russell’s 13 turnovers game in the final frame of the contest, including three in the game’s final minute. On the flip side, Greenup County had only three turnovers the entire second half after coughing the ball up nine times before the break.
“We need to learn to close games,” Barrick said. “We have not done a good job of closing games in the fourth quarter. Those are things we have to take care of ourselves. There’s not a lot I can say except we have to learn to handle those situations better and be more comfortable in those situations.”
With the win, Greenup County pushed its winning record over Russell to 13 of the last 15 matchups.
GREENUP CO. FG FT REB TP
Nelson 7-20 7-9 2 22
Dryden 9-17 7-9 10 27
Burchett 0-1 0-0 2 0
Zand. Carter 1-5 0-0 5 3
Zane Carter 2-2 0-0 2 4
Keeto 1-1 0-0 6 2
Lacey 0-0 0-0 0 0
Broyes 0-0 0-0 0 0
TOTAL 20-46 14-18 27 58
FG Pct.: 43.5. FT Pct.: 77.8. 3-pointers: 4-14 (Zand. Carter 1-5, Nelson 1-2, Burchett 0-1, Dryden 2-6). PF: 14. Turnovers: 12. Fouled out: None.
RUSSELL FG FT REB TP
Anderson 0-0 0-0 3 0
Bell 6-14 2-3 2 14
Cantrell 0-1 0-2 2 0
Goodman 2-3 0-0 1 4
Jachimczuk 5-14 2-2 1 13
Miller 2-4 2-2 4 8
Bechtel 5-7 0-1 7 10
Downs 2-5 2-3 6 6
Moore 0-0 0-0 0 0
TOTAL 22-48 8-13 25 55
FG Pct.: 45.8. FT Pct.: 61.5. 3-pointers: 3-9 (Jachimczuk 1-2, Bell 0-3, Miller 2-3, Downs 0-1). PF: 16. Turnovers: 13. Fouled out: None.
GREENUP CO. 8 10 13 27 — 58
RUSSELL 12 15 13 15 — 55
Officials: Laine Hughes, Jordan Barker, Tyler Maynard.