GRAYSON Rowan County’s 16-4 lead in the first quarter made it appear as if a win might come easily enough on Thursday night.
However, the Raiders weren’t about to go down without a battle in what ended up as a 63-56 Vikings victory.
“We faced some adversity tonight,” Rowan County coach Shawn Thacker said. “Some of it self-inflicted, not making free throws like we normally do. It could have been a bit of a lack of concentration or a little bit of fatigue. But we came out with a win.”
The Vikings found the second and third quarters to be a bit more of a grind than usual as the Raiders fought back within striking distance.
The Raiders’ charge was led by Treven Tussey, who scored eight points during a 17-8 run that put East Carter back within three points late in the first half. They left for the locker rooms with the score 32-27 in favor of the Vikings.
“It showed a lot of heart and desire,” Raiders coach Brandon Baker said. “We have been struggling. Let’s not deny that, but I thought tonight we were a different-looking team as far as our body language and our team energy.”
Tussey contributed 12 points to a balanced effort by the Raiders offense. The Raiders had three players score in double digits. Micah Adams scored 15 points and Donovan Damron added another 12. Hunter Binion was just one basket shy of double digits with eight points.
“That is sort of who we are,” Baker said. “We have to have everybody playing that hard.”
Adams, Damron and Binion scored all 16 points in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders’ valiant effort managed to tie the score, 36-36. Unable to overcome the barrier, East Carter fell behind once more.
Mason Moore made sure to put some distance between the Vikings and the Raiders with back-to-back visits to the free throw line. Moore led the Vikings with 24 points, 10 of which were made from the line.
Chase Alderman played a huge part in the Vikings’ early lead. He scored six of Rowan County’s first eight points. He ended the game with 17 points.
“I thought all five guys really contributed tonight,” Thacker said. “This team has a lot of grit about them and they have a lot of desire to win. We found a way to win tonight. That is what a good team does.”
Devin Davidson added five points during the first quarter and scored the Vikings’ first 3-pointer. He made two 3-point buckets and went 1 for 2 from the free throw line. He ended the night just shy of double digits.
When Moore found himself unable to get inside, Will Cox rose to the occasion. Cox scored seven points, five of which were in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings win makes them a shoo-in for the Eastern Kentucky Conference regular season title.