Still scratching and clawing: Tigers extend season with win over Greenland
WEST FORK -- The Green Forest Tigers are the last one standing in Carroll County.
With a 52-41 win over Greenland in Tuesday's opening-round game of the 1-3A District Tournament at West Fork, the Tigers (6-21) punched their ticket to next week's regional tournament in Paris, despite a 62-23 loss to Cedarville on Wednesday.
"We played our best game at the right time," first-year Green Forest coach Brandon Stone said. "We executed extremely well on both ends of the floor and did everything right, especially early on."
Green Forest vaulted to a 20-7 lead in the opening period behind the one-two punch of Clayton Watson and Michael Campbell. Watson poured in 21 points to lead all scorers.
"Clayton had a lot of transition points and Michael had several steals that he got ahead to Clayton for easy points," Stone said. "That was a good combination."
Green Forest hit a wall in the second frame, scoring just three points. But the Tigers held the Pirates to eight points to maintain a 23-15 lead at the half.
"We didn't hit most of the second quarter," Stone said. "But our defense held them to only eight points. We didn't let them have many good looks. Our adrenaline wore off in the second quarter."
But the Tigers scratched and clawed through the third to build a 38-22 lead entering the final period.
"At halftime we focused on closing out the game," Stone said. "I told the guys we had 16 minutes left to keep our season going and put the game away in third quarter. That was our one-game playoff to get into regionals."
The Tigers turned around to play on back-to-back days, facing top-ranked Cedarville on Wednesday.
"As well as we played against Greenland we played that poorly against Cedarville," Stone said. "We did a lot of things wrong. But they had a lot to do with that. We had no energy and no legs the entire game."
It's the first regional tournament berth since the 2008-09 season for the Tigers, whose six victories doubled the win total of the last three years combined. With all other Carroll County teams being eliminated from post-season play, the Tigers are the lone focus of the hardwood.
"We won two games last year, one by forfeit, and won three on the floor in the last three years," Stone said. "You could see the pride come out of the guys. I think this will give them some confidence. They know they are playing for the county now and they have nothing to lose."