In Dec. 2 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
Coach Willie Feldhaus' Russell County Laker basketball team started the season off right Tuesday night with a big come-from-behind victory over visiting Lincoln County at Laker Gym.
When the final buzzer sounded it was Russell County with a 52-48 win over the Patriots. For the young Laker team it was a confidence boost and after losing seven seniors to graduation from a year ago, it was exactly what the upstart group needed to begin the new year.
It didn't come easy, though, as the Patriots led for much of the game and at one point held a 12-point lead late in the first half. Feldhaus' halftime talk proved fruitful and Russell County came out determined not to let the first game of the season slip away with the Lakers outrebounding the Patriots by 10 in the second half.
"I didn't know what to expect, quite honestly," Feldhaus said after the game. He said he felt his team was stuck on 11 points for a large portion of the first half.
"We did make a little bit of progress there at the end of the second quarter to get back in it and cut it to single digits," he said.
"Then we had a really good third quarter."
Feldhaus said he thought the difference in the game was the third quarter defense his team provided as well as the knocking down of some key shots.
Sophomore Tyler Robertson led the way for Russell County with 25 points on 9-15 shooting as to go along with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
"I don't think we can depend on Tyler to get 25 every single night," Feldhaus said.
"We've got some other kids that are capable of scoring and will score but we'll take it when we can get it, which is an exceptional night from him."
Senior point guard Martin Cross directed the Laker offense well and contributed two points, two rebounds, three assists and three steals.
"I think Marty did a good job of controlling the tempo of the game," he said.
"He did a good job of taking care of the ball and did a good job defensively."
Sophomore forward Barton Mann held his own in the paint, scoring 10 points to go along with four rebounds and three steals.
"I called on him a little bit at halftime and he played a solid game for us," Feldhaus said, noting how Mann cut down his defensive breakdowns in the second half.
Junior guard Blake Aaron tallied six points, four steals, five rebounds, two assists and a key block late in the game for the Lakers.
"Truthfully, Blake there at the end was contesting shots and I know he pulled down two or three defensive rebounds there when we needed some stops," Feldhaus said. "He was very important for us."
Eighth grader Nick Coffey also came off the bench to score eight points and grab five rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
"He gave us some really good minutes," Feldhaus said of his young big man.
Senior Logan Smith started at the five-spot and pulled down five rebounds to go along with a steal in his 17 minutes of play. Sophomores Lucas Whittle and Nick Britt also played but did not score for Russell County.
The Lakers shot 40 percent from the field for the game and held the Patriots to just 24 percent shooting in the second half of play.
Veteran Zack Hill led Lincoln County with 25 points on 8-16 shooting. Hill was the lone Patriots in double figures.
"They're athletic enough, they'll get better as the year goes on," Feldhuas said of the Patriots.
Russell County, 1-0, now turns their focus to rival Casey County, who visits Laker Gym on Thursday night for a highly anticipated matchup.
"I do know this, regardless of whom we play this year we have to play well and we have to play hard, which our kids well, to give us a chance to win," Feldhaus said.
Tip-off for the varsity game against the Rebels is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday at Laker Gym.