Tate Johnson

Tate Johnson battles for control of a loose ball. (Photo by Krystal Williams)

Rowan County held off the East Carter Raiders, 47-46.

“All season long we have been getting wins like that. Wins or losses, they have all been close. It has really prepared us for the postseason,” said Clay Sizemore.

It was a slow start in the first quarter.

Justin Greene got his team off to a good start with a three-pointer and Tyler Gardner responded to tie things up.

Sizemore sunk the first of his eight baskets for the night, one from three-point range.

He led the night in scoring with 18 points. He had five assists, six rebounds and one of the Vikings’ 11 steals.

“Clay being active defensively, blocking out, rebounding and making ‘what if’ plays made the offensive end much more fun for him. He was more invested in what he was doing,” said Coach Shawn Thacker.

Sizemore was definitely the most versatile player in Thursday night’s game. With a stop in the final minute and taking the final lead from the line, it’s hard to deny him a big part of the Vikings’ success.

“I told him yesterday 50 percent of our success or 50 percent of our failure is going to fall right on him whether he likes it or he doesn’t. He is a big part of our success,” said Thacker.

The scoring for both teams was evenly dispersed.

Tate Johnson and Brady Madden split 14 points while Gardner and Will Cox put up six apiece. Devin Davidson connected a three-pointer in the second quarter.

The Raiders were led by Jordan Brooks who connected 50 percent from the field and went a perfect three-for-three from the line.

He was followed by Brady Bush and Josh Damron with 10 apiece. Karrick Dyer added eight while Hunter Binion added four in the fourth quarter to help tie things up.

Seven points from Sizemore along with the help of Cox, Johnson, Madden and Davidson, the Vikings jumped to a 23-16 lead at the half.

The Vikings out rebounded the Raiders 25-17. They had 17 defensive rebounds to prevent the Raiders from getting second chance baskets and were able maintain their lead well into the fourth quarter.

The Vikings still struggle with turnovers giving up 14 - a few more than Coach Thacker would like to see with the postseason so close.

“If you take care of the second point chances, the way we shoot the ball you can live with a few more turnovers than a coach would like,” said Thacker.

A drought with 2:47 left in the game gave way for an 8-point run by the Raiders to tie things up, 44-44.

East Carter’s Coach Brandon Baker, although not happy with his team’s overall performance, was happy with how his guys battled back and still saw a chance to win.

“Our guys didn’t quit and somehow tied it up. It’s frustrating though to play so well Monday night to come out here and fall off the table,” said Baker.

Sizemore connected a basket from in the paint to maintain the lead before Brady Bush tied the game up with two from the line.

Sizemore locked in the score, 47-46, from the free throw line with three seconds left, but not before a final attempt made by the Raiders.

Noah Tansil got a hand on the inbound ball but Hunter Binion was there to get the deflection. With time running out he made the shot.

Binion connected with the rim but the ball just didn’t bounce their way.

“That’s just the way it is. Sometimes you get the bounce. Sometimes you get the call. Sometimes you don’t. Seems like we have been on the short end of the stick a whole lot,” said Baker.

The win over East Carter put the Viking at 6-8 in regional play with two regional matchups left before the postseason.

Saturday, the Vikings fell a basket shy of victory 52-50 to Morgan County.

They return to action Tuesday, Feb. 13, at home against Mason County following the girls varsity game against Lexington Catholic at 6 p.m.

Their last regular season game is at home Thursday, Feb. 15, against Fairview. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

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