WILLIAMSON — The Lenore Rangers came into the Mingo County Championship Game on Saturday at the historic Williamson Fieldhouse with a big target on their backs as they were undefeated in county play and the reigning county champions.
The pressure never got to the Rangers as they held off a pesky Burch Bulldog squad by a final score of 39-32 to pick up the school’s second straight county title.
Lenore came out of the gates firing as Braydun Ferris and Ashton Davis each connected on long 3’s to start the game and give the Rangers a 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs responded however as a bucket by Caden Woolum got Burch on the board and then five points from Dane Hatfield tied the game up at seven apiece going into the second quarter.
The two teams traded buckets in the second quarter as Lenore took the lead at 14-10 after a putback by Buddy Marcum but the Bulldogs rallied to tie the game up at 16 after an and-one by Hatfield with just under a minute left in the first half. The two teams would head to the halftime locker rooms knotted up at 16 apiece.
Coming out to start the second half Lenore head coach Eric Davis decided to pound the ball inside to Ethan Ferrell and the move paid dividends as he scored the first five points of the quarter to give the Rangers the 21-16 lead.
Burch battled back once again however as a long three-pointer by Holden Pigman with 15 seconds left in the third quarter gave them a 24-23 lead going into the fourth. It was the first time the ‘Dogs had led since they were up 9-7 early in the second quarter.
Now trailing by a point, Lenore mounted a furious rally to start the final quarter as they went on a 7-0 run to start the period and took a 30-24 lead after a putback by Joey Gollihue, who battled foul trouble for most of the game.
Burch finally got on the board on a put back by Chaz Wayne with 3:28 left in the fourth and cut the lead to two at 31-29 after a layup by Pigman, but the Rangers got two free throws by Marcum and a bucket by Davis to push the lead back to 35-29 with less than a minute to play.
With time winding down Burch would not quit as a Hatfield three cut it to 35-32, but it was not enough as Lenore made the plays down the stretch to secure the seven-point win and earn their second straight county title.
Lenore had a balanced attack as all five starters scored in the game. Ferrell led the way with 11 points while Ferris barely missed double-figures with nine and Ashton Davis scored eight.
Marcum followed them with seven points but he dominated the glass by yanking down 13 rebounds and blocking multiple shots. Gollihue rounded out the scoring for the Rangers with four.
Burch was led by Hatfield as he fired in a game high 17 points, including a pair of three-pointers and 6-8 foul shots.
Pigman and Malakai Shepperd followed him with five while Woolum finished with three and Waine scored two to round out the scoring for the blue-and-white.