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The Spencer County Bears faced a hostile crowd, the pressure of growing expectations, and a team that sported an identical 13-4 record as their own when they faced Martha Layne Collins High School in Shelbyville last Tuesday.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Bears had earned a convincing 67-51 victory, sole possession of first place in the region and even more confidence as the season begins to wind down to postseason play in a few weeks.
Spencer County used their inside muscle early on, as Chris Dunbar scored the first two baskets and guard Brandon Miller scored seven of his nine points in the first quarter to help the Bears keep pace with the Titans. A coast-to-coast drive by Trey Wyatt in the closing seconds helped the Bears pull even at 17-17 right before the first quarter ended.
In the second frame, the Bears went back to work inside with Dunbar and his older brother Logan, scoring the next ten points for the Bears. Spencer County outhustled and outmuscled the Titans as they built a ten point lead midway through the quarter and bumped it up to an even dozen at the halftime break.
After trading baskets early in the third quarter, a three-pointer by Wyatt pushed the lead to 15, but the Titans were able to cut it to 10 midway through the third quarter. However, the Bears used really good defense to stifle the Titans offensively and went on a 6-0 run at the end of the quarter and led 50-32 entering the fourth.
Again the Titans were able to cut into the lead, and had it down to nine at 57-48 following a three-pointer with just under four minutes remaining, but the Bears hit their free throws down the stretch and played tough defense to secure the victory.
“After the game, I told the guys I felt like we had played our most complete game top to bottom in all aspects of the game,” said Bears coach Jacob Bamore. “This was the performance we knew we were capable of.”
He said the victory should serve as a confidence boost to his team and sends a signal that other, larger schools must take Spencer County seriously.
“Too often Spencer County gets counted out when playing a Shelby County team, however our guys proved that it’s not the prominence of a program or the size of a facility that wins ballgames. It’s decided by the boys between the lines,” he said.
On Tuesday, clearly the boys from Spencer County were the better team.
However, Barmore cautioned that one win does not make a season and the team’s goals go much deeper than just making a statement. They include a run in the playoffs and he knows it’s a good possibility the Bears and Titans could square off again in the postseason.
“Anyone can win a game on any given night,” he said. “I have no doubt if we have the opportunity to meet in district play, they will make adjustments and will be ready for us,” he said.
However, Tuesday’s victory was a sweet one for the players and the fans who traveled in impressive numbers for the game. The win puts Spencer County at 14-4 on the season and puts them in control to secure the top seed in the district tournament.
Logan Dunbar led Spencer County with 21 points on the night while Wyatt added 17 and Chris Dunbar put in 14 points. Miller finished with nine points on the night while Bryce Mills added four and Ros Goodwin scored two.
Snow hampered the rest of the week’s schedule for the Bears, canceling games at Bullitt East and Fort Knox. The Bears were scheduled to travel to Anderson County on Tuesday night and will play at Bullitt Central on Friday.