Western Hills holds off East’s second-half comeback

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2019

East Jessamine boys basketball lost their second straight game Tuesday against the Western Hills Wolverines 63-54 to give the Jaguars a 7-9 record for the season.

Hills got the game going as they scored the first basket.

The Wolverines forced the Jaguars to turn the ball over on their first two possessions due to the pressure from the full-court press.

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Senior Kenzel Wadkins scored the first points for East as he got an easy lay up after breaking the press.

The Jags gained momentum nearing the end of the first quarter as they trailed 13-11.

Hills opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run and still created problems for East to press the break.

The scoring drought ended as Wadkins once again finished at the rim after breaking the press.

The Wolverines managed to outscore East 18-10 in the second quarter to go into the locker room at the half with a 31-21 lead.

The pace picked up in the second half and the ball finally started going through the hoop for East.

The Jags put up 18 points in the quarter and held Hills to 16 points as East still trailed 47-39 at the end of the third.

The Jags managed to storm back in the fourth quarter and cut the deficit to 55-50 with just minutes left.

Turnovers were the nightmare of the game and East was unable to get over the hump.

Head coach Nick Barton was not pleased with his team after the loss.

“We didn’t play very well,” he said. “This was probably one of our worst games of the season to tell you the truth. I’m not sure why, but we didn’t come out with the intensity we needed tonight.”

Barton said his team was able to bring themselves back in the game because they cut the turnovers down in the second half.

“We just had too many turnovers in the first half,” he said. “I think we had 12 or 13 turnovers. You can’t turn the ball over against any team. We just tried to pick up the pressure in the second half and attack the bucket. We did that, but we couldn’t make shots and the ball wasn’t falling in from the outside so we tried to go inside. We had dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half to get out of.”

Barton keeps faith in his team because of how hard his team works and realizes there is still plenty of time left in the season.

“We will get better,” he said. “It is still early in the season and we’ve still got two months. There is still plenty of time left and we will continue to come in here every day and get better. We just got Kenzel (Watkins) back. He was hurt for basically the whole month of December and he only played the first three games. He has been out and he is out of shape trying to get used to the flow again. Things will improve and get better when everything comes together.”

East will head down the road to face West Jessamine in the two team’s first match up of the season.

Barton said there is no pressure for his team to try and get the win.

“When you have rivalry games, it is all about emotion,” he said. “It will be key for us to keep our emotions in check. You don’t want to get too high or too low. There is no pressure for us and all the pressure is on them. They are the ones expected to win so we are going to go into it loose and we are going to try and shock the world and beat West for the first time in a while.”

Friday is a boy-girl double header at West Jessamine where the girls have a 6 p.m. tipoff and 7:30 p.m. for the boys.

Tyler Pitney led East in scoring with 16 points, Wadkins added 12 and Ben McNew posted 10.