Shelby County survives Chelsea’s comeback efforts

Published 1:20 pm Monday, December 7, 2015

By AUSTIN FRANKLIN / Special to the Reporter

COLUMBIANA- With a halftime lead of 27-16, it looked as though Shelby County would walk away with an easy win over Chelsea on Dec. 4, 2015.

Instead, Chelsea came out of halftime and forced the game down to the wire. Only to in the end, came up short as Shelby County hung on to win 53-48.

Chelsea’s second half surge was driven in large part by a combination of Sam Towoery and Matt Marquet who contributed 12 points each. In addition to a calmer, slowed down offensive strategy in the second half, Chelsea’s defense began forcing turnovers and creating fast-break opportunities.

Chelsea managed to close the gap to 36-33 entering the fourth quarter. But the Wildcats, their halftime lead a distant memory, were able to regroup in the fourth and focus their efforts on getting the ball in the paint offensively. Behind strong defensive play from David Watkins and Tanner Brooks, the Wildcats were able to hold on and close out the Hornets.

David Watkins, who led all scoring with 18 points, proved to be a key difference maker down the stretch. Cory Martin added 13 points of his own, the most pivotal of which was a layup and-one with just under two minutes to go that helped preserve Shelby County’s lead. Solid free throw shooting and a fortunate charge call ensured Shelby County’s victory from there.

“Well, we had things that were not very good at the end, but that’s part of it,” said Shelby County head coach Torry Brown. “You know we have a young team right now and they’re still growing. Still learning how to come out and close out a game. So hopefully this will help us next time we’re in the same situation.”

While Shelby County moves forward with the W, Chelsea is left to wonder what might have been. Chelsea opened the game with aggressiveness on offense that ultimately did more harm than good. The frenetic pace set by Chelsea was met with chippy defensive play by Shelby County resulting in multiple turnovers and easy buckets for Shelby County. At the end of one the Wildcats had jumped out to a 17-9 lead over Chelsea and from there the Hornets had to play catch up the rest of the game.

By the end of the game Chelsea looked like a different team. Playing with confidence, and pressed for time, they were able to have success against a strong Shelby County defense throughout the second half. But it was ultimately not enough.

“We’re 2-7 this year. That’s the fifth game we’ve lost by less than six points this year, so we can’t seem to get over the hump and get that momentum,” said Chelsea head coach Nicholas Baumbaugh. “We’ve had the lead late in a couple games, took the lead late in this game 43-42 and then had a bad turnover and an and-one on the other side. Not that that was the absolute difference but it was a big misstep there, so we have to learn from that and better prepare for next week.”