Shelby County escapes with win over Briarwood in area contest

Shelby County High School boys’ basketball coach Charles Dickinson had seen the script before this season.

His Wildcats were down to an opponent in the fourth quarter with precious minutes melting off the clock.

Despite the circumstances, Dickinson remained confident. He knew the Wildcats had a little gas left in the tank.

Dickinson watched his team go on a run to overcome a five-point deficit entering the final period as Shelby County earned a hard-fought 71-66 win over Briarwood Christian in a key Class 5A, Area 8 contest Jan. 12 inside the gymnasium bearing his name.

“That’s part of who this team is,” Dickinson said. “Teams are always going to make a run. We’ve always had a run of our own. If we’re close in the fourth quarter, we think we’ve got a shot to win.”

Jordan Simon led Shelby County with 20 points to help the Wildcats improve to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in Class 5A, Area 8. Ty Lollar added 17 points. Tyler Madison chipped in 12 points and Chad King finished with nine points.

Jason Laatsch led Briarwood (10-10, 1-2 in Class 5A, Area 8) with 21 points, including five 3-pointers. Kalan Reed added 11 points and Justin Bice chipped in eight points.

Laatsch was hot at the start of the game and his two 3-pointers in the first quarter helped the Lions take an early 14-9 lead after the first quarter.

Shelby County turned up the heat in the second quarter with its pressure defense. The Wildcats outscored Briarwood 27-11 in the second quarter to take a 36-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Shelby County did most of its damage in the first half without Madison, who spent time on the bench after suffering a cut on his forehead.

Briarwood rallied in the third quarter after getting hot from the perimeter. Bice hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 42-38 midway through the third quarter. Two 3-pointers by Laatsch sandwiched a trey by Nathan Fincher, as the Lions hit back-to-back-to-back shots from the perimeter to take a 47-44 lead late in the quarter.

Shelby County responded with a run of its own in the fourth quarter. Lollar capped the comeback with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 62-all with 3:42 left in the game. Reed responded with a layup to put the Lions back on top before King hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give Shelby County a lead it wouldn’t give up.

Madison’s offensive rebound and putback with 49 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats a 69-66 lead and helped seal the victory.

Dickinson said he believes work during the offseason has helped his players in the fourth quarter this season.

“I think conditioning has a big part to do with it,” Dickinson said. “We’ll go on our run.”

The win helps Shelby County remain in the hunt for the Class 5A, Area 8 title following a heartbreaking one-point loss Jan. 8 at John Carroll. Dickinson said the Widcats couldn’t afford a second area loss.

“This win was huge,” Dickinson said. “If you lose tonight, you’re two (games) back. That’s not a good place to be in.”

The Wildcats have John Carroll at home for a second meeting between the two teams later this month, but Dickinson is more worried about a return trip to Briarwood.

“In this area, you can lose easily at the other team’s place,” Dickinson said. “Briarwood is going to determine how this thing shapes up. I’m not looking forward to going to Briarwood.”

GIRLS

Briarwood Christian 59, Shelby County 39

Briarwood determined the outcome of the game in the second quarter, as the Lions outscored Shelby County 13-4 in the quarter to take a 25-13 lead at halftime.

The Lions pushed the lead to 41-25 after the third quarter.

Kathryn Byers led the Lions (9-9, 3-0 in Class 5A, Area 8) with 20 points and 12 rebounds as Briarwood dominated in the post against the smaller Shelby County lineup. Julia Hoke added 17 points. Anna Handlin chipped in 12 points. Hoke and Handlin had seven rebounds each.

“Our three seniors really played well tonight,” said Briarwood coach Jim Brown. “Kathryn just went to war down in the post. Julia played really well and Laura Gilbert was assigned to their best offensive player. They really did a great job.”

With the win, Briarwood has now defeated all three of its Class 5A, Area 8 foes, including wins on the road at John Carroll and Shelby County.

“We’re in a really good position,” Brown said.

Alexis Lewis led Shelby County (8-7, 1-2) with 16 points. Alysia Perkins added 10 points.