• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Yellow Jackets defeat Titans in a thriller

The game clock read 1.4 seconds left in the game and the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team was tied with Collins 50-50 at home in The Hive on Tuesday, Jan. 24. At the free throw line stood senior Keagan Stromberg. He had two shots to make one basket to help the Yellow Jackets get the win. It was a moment all basketball players, especially seniors, dream of having in their careers. He stood there, looked at the basket, dribbled a couple times, took a deep breath, shot the ball and… made it. Everyone in the building erupted in cheers. Woodford led 51-50. It didn’t matter that he missed the second shot, because by the time Collins got the rebound, the horn sounded and Woodford had the win. “Keagan has been here. He’s done this for three or four years, so that was nothing new for him,” said Woodford head coach Ryan Wilson. “To be honest, that’s what seniors live for. These are stories that you tell your kids. You know, ‘Back when I was in high school, daddy knocked down a free throw to knock off one of the top two or three teams in the eighth region.’ So, a good moment for him. I’m proud of him to get this opportunity and to step up and take advantage of it.” As for the game, Wilson said, “It was a good team effort. At the end, we had five out there that was really jelling and doing a lot of good stuff, so we kind of rode that wave. But, throughout the whole game, (we had) guys coming off the bench that made plays. Braxton Caudill made some good stops, and Nick Smith had a few baskets and some rebounds. Malik (Richards) came in and hit some big shots. … Everybody that stepped on the floor contributed in some sort of way. Even our bench cheering and clapping, keeping the guys positive was a nice thing for us.” With the win, Woodford is now 10-10 overall, 5-4 in the region and 2-3 in the district. The Yellow Jackets came out running at the start of the game, and behind two baskets by Stromberg, a basket and a free throw by Cason, Woodford led 7-0. Collins started to come back, and while Cason made one more basket, the Titans made it a one-point game at 9-8. Senior Brandon Cromwell then hit a three-pointer to make it 12-8, but as the clock was winding down in the quarter, Collins hit one more shot to make it 12-10 at the end of one. The second quarter saw Collins make its move as it opened with eight unanswered points to take an 18-12 lead. Cason then hit a shot, but Collins responded with a three-pointer to make it 21-14. The two teams then went back and forth through the rest of the quarter, but then late in the stanza with Collins ahead 21-16, senior Malik Richards hit a three-pointer, followed by senior Griffin Mobley scoring on a jump shot and the score was tied at 21. Griffin finished the game with eight points; Mobley with two points. Collins then hit two of four free throws to retake the lead at 23-21 as the half ended. In the third quarter, Woodford and Collins remained within a point or two of each other the entire way, as there were three ties and four lead changes. As time ran down, Collins still had the lead, 39-36. The fourth quarter was one of those edge-of-your seat thrill rides if you were a fan, with the two teams battling back and forth for the lead. Woodford scored nine unanswered points, starting with Stromberg making one of two free throws, and then on the Yellow Jackets’ next possession, senior Trevor White hitting a three-pointer to give Woodford the lead, 40-39. On Woodford’s next time down the court, Cromwell made a two-pointer, was fouled and hit his free throw to give the Yellow Jackets a 43-39 lead. Another two-pointer by George made it, 45-39, and then on two free throws by George made it 47-39. He would finish with five points in the game. Collis finally got going and made one basket and five free throws, while Cromwell made two free throws to give Woodford a 49-46 lead. Cromwell finished the game with a team-high 12 points. Then, following a time out, the Titans hit a put-back to make it a one-point game, 49-48. Stromberg was fouled on Woodford’s next possession and made one of two free throws and the Jackets had a two-point lead, 50-48. Stromberg finished with nine points in the game. Collins then made a nice inbounds play and scored two points to tie the game, 50-50, which brings us back to the start of this story with Stromberg at the line, it’s all tied up, 1.4 seconds left in the game, and he made the free throw that gave his team the win and gave him a story to tell his kids one day in the future. Next up, Woodford plays its final regular season district game on Saturday, Jan. 28, at home against Frankfort. Game time is 8:15 p.m.

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