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Having watched the Lady Bears make history minutes before, the Spencer County Bears took the floor with little to lose in the opening round of the 30th District Tournament as they squared off against an older, bigger Shelby County squad.
While the young Bears made a game of it early, the magic surrounding the girls’ first ever district tournament win couldn’t work any wonders for the boys, as their long season came to close with a 69-41 defeat.
“I think that gave the guys a little more confidence going into the game,” said Barmore of his boys having just watched the girls defeat the Shelby County Lady Rockets to propel the Lady Bears into the Regional Tournament.
“I truly felt that our guys knew that if they played a great game, we could win.”
Despite a line up featuring no players older than sophomores, the Bears actually held their own for much of the first half. Despite falling behind early 14-6, Spencer County fought back, with an old fashioned three point by center Logan Dunbar and a long-range three-pointer by Trey Wyatt, the Bears closed the gap to 17-14.
However, Shelby County widened that lead to 21-14 by the end of the quarter. Dunbar scored again early in the second frame and a three-pointer by Konner Barlow pulled the Bears to within four at 23-19 with just over five minutes left in the half.
But Shelby County’s size and experience took over as they went on a 7-2 run to end the half, leading 30-21.
Spencer County’s first-half performance was not lost on Barmore.
“I went into the locker room with very little complaints, down by only nine,” he said. “We knew we left ourselves in a position to be in the game in the second half, however we did miss some easy shots early on in the game that may have made it even closer.”
In the second half, Shelby County began to pull away, quickly padding their lead to double-digits then a 10-0 run midway in the quarter put the game out of reach.
Barmore wasn’t upset with the effort, simply crediting Shelby County as the better team.
“They are bigger and more athletic than we are at almost every position,” he said, noting that his players gave a good effort most of the night.
“Unfortunately, Shelby County is a better team than we are right now and while I make no excuses for the loss, we were playing the equivalent of a JV team with four sophomores and an 8th grader.
For the game, Dunbar and Wyatt led the way with 15 points each, while Barlow added five, Stetson Baird chipped in with four and Brian Thacker scored two.
Despite their youth, Barmore said he told the players after they game that their 6-22 season wasn’t without promise.
“My senior year at SCHS, we ended the season in 1999 with only eight wins and we had at least seven seniors on that team. They (this year’s team) almost accomplished that with sophomores, freshmen and an 8th grader.”
While it’s been a long, difficult season, the future may be brighter.
“I can say that if the boys give the off season their undivided attention, you will see a completely different Bears’ team next year.”