The Gilmer High School Bobcats basketball team had one of its most successful seasons ever, and Gilmer was looking to add that elusive Region Championship to the accomplishments this team had achieved this year. While the “Cats” did not clinch the crown, Gilmer’s second place finish garnered a first ever home State playoff game in Gilmer.
The bracket was set up perfectly for the Bobcats to have a third chance at River Ridge, a team the “Cats” had fallen to twice on the year. In Gilmer’s way though were two other matches, one against LaFayette and the other against the tournament host Cass Colonels.
After inclement weather had pushed the game back a few days, the matchup between Gilmer and LaFayette was finally underway. The Bobcats was firing on all cylinders in this one, especially in the opening quarter, has Gilmer dropped 24 points.
Taner Reece got things started with an offensive rebound put-back, something Gilmer’s grown accustomed to seeing. Another common sight was the back to back three-pointers by Wheeler Lancey and Joe Bob Charles. The three went off in the quarter while the team also provided stellar defense. This gave the Bobcats a 24-9 lead after one.
The second quarter saw a new group of Bobcats get on the board. Corey Waters knocked down a three to begin the period and Hayden Hoequest followed that up with another quick basket. A Hoequest block then led to Chandler Burrell’s first basket of the game. Burrell would add another along with Kyle Hedden getting in on the action. At halftime, the Bobcats held a commanding 41-23 lead.
The lead only grew in the third quarter, with the usual suspects pouring in more shots. Charles, Lancey, Waters, and Reece all scored in the third quarter as the Bobcats only gave up six points. With a quarter left to play, GHS led 62-40.
Other than a couple of baskets, the fourth quarter mainly consisted of free throws for the Bobcats who were continuously being fouled. The big shot of the fourth quarter came when Preston Kingsley entered the game and nailed a three-pointer in the closing moments of the game, sealing an 83-56 victory for the Bobcats.
The next team standing in the way was the Colonels of Cass. Just like the first game, Reece started the scoring by grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring. Despite two baskets by Waters, GHS fell behind 11-6. A three-pointer by Lancey got it close, but Cass scored four straight points to close the quarter with the lead, 15-9.
Charles got things going early in the second with a catch and shoot three-pointer. Two Bobcat steals turned into points from Reece and Charles, then Lancey drilled his second three of the game. Just like that, Gilmer had started the quarter on a 10-0 run. After a timeout Cass was able to tie it back up at 19-19, but Gilmer closed the quarter with six straight points. The Bobcats outscored the Colonels 16-4 in the second quarter and took a 25-19 lead into the locker room at the half.
The third quarter was an uncharacteristic one for Gilmer as the “Cats” came out and only scored four points. Cass didn’t take advantage of it, as the Colonels could only score enough to get a 30-29 lead with just a quarter to go.
A Lancey three-pointer to start the final quarter helped ignite the offense as Gilmer went on to score fifteen points in the fourth and beat the Colonels 44-38 behind a big quarter from Charles. This win set up a championship match against the River Ridge basketball team.
It was the moment Gilmer fans had all waited for all year. This amazing Gilmer Bobcat basketball team had found its way into the Region Championship game. The Bobcats came out on fire, knocking down their shots and handling the athletic Knights team.
Reece, Waters, and Charles all scored in the opening period and although Gilmer only held a 16-13 lead, the momentum was shifted more towards the Bobcats.
The second quarter was a bit sloppy for Gilmer. Turnovers hurt the “Cats” badly as well as foul trouble. GHS was only able to score six points allowing River Ridge to take a 29-22 lead at the half.
Things only got worse in the second half for Gilmer. Some of Gilmer’s wounds were self-inflicted; however, the Knights had a great night. The River Ridge shots were falling and Gilmer’s weren’t, and that is really what it came down to.
The Knights kept pulling away and ended up cruising to a 67-40 win. It’s not all bad for the Bobcats though, as the “Cats” locked up a home game in the State Playoffs this Saturday at 4:00 against Fayette County.