Caldwell County overcame an 11-point deficit entering the fourth quarter and dealt the Wildcats a 71-70 loss. In the process, the Tigers made a statement to those who figured the Fifth District would be won by either Trigg or Crittenden County.
"We didn’t handle the press and had people out of position," said Wildcat head coach Bill Chumbler. "They did a good job backdooring us all night long, and we have to finish better on the inside. You have to give Caldwell credit. They have a new coach and did a good job on us."
The Wildcats used a 13-4 third quarter run to take a 51-38 lead, capped by a Jeremy Jones 3-pointer with 2:24 left.
The run was punctuated with dunks on consecutive trips down the floor by Russell Mackins and Jones.
But Caldwell County came out of the gate in the fourth quarter with ten straight points to pull to within 55-54 with 5:32 left.
Three Wildcat turnovers in the stretch led to six Caldwell points.
Mackins had consecutive put backs off missed Wildcat shots to stay ahead 59-58 with 4:21 left.
But Caldwell County forged ahead with eight straight points, as their press forced a pair of turnovers.
During the run, Steven Wadlington twisted his ankle and left the game. Wadlington had been guarding Caldwell’s leading scorer Matt Fraliex, holding him to 12 points through three quarters.
With Wadlington out, Fraliex erupted for six of the eight Caldwell points during the run to push their lead to 66-59 with 2:16 left.
But the Wildcats didn’t fold as Jamaal Boyd countered with a pair of buckets to go with a Mackins field goal to cut the lead to 66-65 with 1:21 left.
Caldwell answered with three points to take a 69-65 lead.
A bucket by Jones cut the lead to 69-67 with 40 seconds left, but Caldwell hit two free throws to put the game out of reach. Jones hit a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final one-point margin.
While Trigg County was expected to have the advantage on the boards and in the paint, no one bothered to tell Caldwell County.
The Tigers outrebounded Trigg 31-25 and held a 14-11 advantage in second chance points. Trigg was beat on the glass 19-11 in the second half.
"Other than Mackins, we’re even with them height-wise, but we didn’t block out well, and they manhandled us inside," Chumbler said.
Caldwell also outscored the Wildcats 42-28 in the paint, with 11 of their 27 field goals coming on layups.
Caldwell guard Levi Glover contributed to the layup-fest, beating the Wildcat defenders off the dribble most of the night on his way to 18 points and four assists.
The Wildcats also did not have an answer for Allen Wadlington, who scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Fraliex finished with a season-low 18 points and was 0-for-6 behind the arc.
"I thought we did a decent job on Fraliex, and what Glover did was no secret. He scored 22 on us as an eighth grader and played well," Chumbler said.
Mackins had his best game as a Wildcat, scoring 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range.
He also grabbed 13 rebounds, with eight of those on the offensive glass before fouling out with 28 seconds left.
Jamaal Boyd added 18 points and five rebounds, and Jones scored 16 points and dished out eight assists as the trio combined for all but seven of Trigg’s points.
While both teams shot near 50-percent from the field, Caldwell County won the game at the charity stripe, knocking down 14-of-20 (70%). In the second half, they connected on 13-of-17 (76%) at the line.
Trigg County was 6-of-14 (43%) at the line, including a miserable 2-of-9 showing in the second half.
Chumbler said he didn’t see any positives from come out of the loss, which came in Trigg County’s only game last week.
Their Tuesday game at Russellville was postponed due to the death of a student at TCHS last Monday. No makeup date has been set.
"We were strutting around campus this week, and Russellville might have taken that out of us and brought us back to Earth in time to play Caldwell County," Chumbler said.
Trigg County returns to action Saturday at Heath. The varsity will tip off at 7:30 p.m.