By John Stepp For The Times Tribune
WHITLEY COUNTY — After a 74-46 loss to Corbin last Friday, Whitley County Coach Jerry Overbey asked his team to do some “soul searching.”
“We had to look in the mirror and say 'whose fault is it.' We had to get back to the drawing board and get back to what we do best,” Overbey said. “We have to pressure people and get those hustle plays, and get those 50-50 balls. When we can do that, that's when we play our best.”
The soul searching must have worked because they were a different Whitley County squad when they took the court against Williamsburg in their final 50th District game of the year. The Colonels started slow, but were able to take control of the game in the second quarter en route to a 69-58 win.
“It's the same as the North Laurel game when we came out and get a feel for what they're doing offensively and defensively,” Overbey said. “We had to get in that groove and finally get in our spots and where we were supposed to be. That helped us get some turnovers and get some buckets, and hit some open shots.”
The Colonels were not short on scoring in the game, as three Whitley County players finished in double digits. Sophomore guard Casey Crisologo led the Colonels with 16 points on the night. Guard Levi Barton finished with 15 points, while junior James Sasko added 10.
“We had seven or eight kids score. We were well balanced on the court," said Overbey. “The kids I put out there are capable of scoring and that's what I want them to do. We have to build that confidence in each kid. We tell them they can shoot it when they're open and finish those plays.”
The Colonels had a tough time finishing plays in the first quarter. Williamsburg jumped out to an early 8-2 lead just two minutes into the game. A basket by Sasko cut the led to 8-6, but Jackets' guard Corey Shelton took over in the remainder of the quarter. Shelton scored 11 of his game-high 32 points in the quarter, helping his team to a 17-13 advantage after one.
“We just locked up a little bit after the first quarter. I thought the effort was really good. I thought both teams played really hard,” said Williamsburg Coach Patrick Robinson. "Tonight I give Whitley County all the credit. They played well.”
Crisologo opened the scoring in the second quarter with a three-point basket that cut the Jackets' lead to 17-16. Shelton scored quickly to extend the lead back to 19-16, but it would be the last time Williamsburg would lead for the remainder of the game.
Back-to-back baskets by sophomore Luke Woods sparked a 15-2 run by Whitley County that gave the Colonels a 31-21 lead with just over two minutes left in the first half. The Colonels would go on to take a 35-26 lead into the half.
The Whitley County defense held the Jackets to just three field goals in the second quarter, as the Colonels outscored Williamsburg 22-9.
"They made a lot of shots. They drove the ball well. They were really balanced, and when you have four or five players who can score, it's hard to beat a team like that,” said Robinson. "We were trying to go with different stuff defensively. I was pleased with the effort, though.”
With the win, the Colonels finish with a 2-4 record in district play and will await the final of the Williamsburg-South Laurel game before their seeding is completed.
For the Jackets, a win over South Laurel would tie Whitley County for the third seed and also tie the Cardinals with Corbin for the first seed.
One plus for Williamsburg is the return of junior guard Skylar Griffith, who has been out with an injury sustained during football season.
"Skylar is released but hasn't practiced yet. We're not going to rush it, but he'll be playing before the year's out,” Robinson said. "There are still six or seven games left. We're going to keep getting better and play hard and see what happens.”
Whitley County 69, Williamsburg 58
Whitley County 13 22 17 17 – 69
Williamsburg 17 9 13 19 – 58
Whitley County (69) – Crisologo 16, Barton 15, Sasko 10, Woods 9, Co. Johnson 7, Foley 6, Petrey 4, Ca. Johnson 2.
Williamsburg (58) – Shelton 32, Sulfridge 10, A. Griffith 6, Sizemore 4, Poore 3, Lowie 3.