DUNLAP, Tenn.–For a team that hasn’t won more than five games in each of the last three years, a 7-win campaign is a trend up.
The Jackets may have fell to a 6-win Irish squad in the District 7-AA tournament play-in game 68-59 Monday night, but Grundy County was far from defeated, especially in the middle stages of the second half.
“It was hard to get in a rhythm at first,” Yellow Jackets head coach Kevin Butner said. “We got into foul trouble for one of our seniors and he had to sit for most of the first half. He really lit a fire under us in the third quarter. I felt like we went on a run and then [Notre Dame] hit some threes, and it was just hard to battle back.”
After trailing by double digits around halftime, the Yellow Jackets stormed back and even took a brief lead in the second half off of some corner threes and the play of Trent Hampton all over the frontcourt. It seemed as though the Yellow Jackets found a way to get out of the proverbial hole.
“We could be down by fifteen with 30 seconds left and you better not count us out,” Butner said. “We’ve done stuff like that a couple of times this year. We were down by 10 there and cam back. They keep fighting.”
It was not enough, though, as the Irish found a way to win late via some threes of their own while weaving through the swarming Yellow Jacket press of the fourth quarter. The late-game theatrics could have panned out better if the last week had gone somewhat to plan for Grundy County.”
“We were off tonight,” Butner said. “I gave them off Wednesday because we had four games in five days, but then Thursday and Friday, they call off school, and we can’t practice. We had a Saturday morning practice, and then boom, we’re here at Monday. It was just late for us to get going.”
Butner and his Yellow Jacket squad end their season with a mark of 7-17 while splitting season bouts with both Notre Dame and rival Sequatchie County. The real story of the season, though, might be the talent yet to come for the Jackets.
“We’re just trying to change the whole culture,” Butner said. “These kids are just used to losing. It’s just hard to get them to know how to win, and this year we learned how to win. We’re going to be really senior-heavy next year. The future’s really bright for us.
The Yellow Jackets will have a lengthy offseason while the Irish are still alive for three more games in the District 7-AA Tournament. They’ll play Chattanooga Christian at 5:30 PM on Thursday at Sequatchie County High School.
GCHS — 6 | 17 | 22 | 15 || 59
NDHS — 15 | 13 | 20 | 20 || 68
GCHS (59) — Tyler Patrick (17), Boo Goins (12), Blaine Harris (7)
NDHS (68) — Derwin Lewis (17), CJ Greer (15), Kolby Mcgowan (10)