East Bernstadt collected win No. 1 in both sixth-grade and eighth-grade action Monday night, sweeping visiting Red Bird at Wiggins Gymnasium.

In the opener, a fourth-quarter rally led the younger Wildcats to the win. Trailing by one entering the final frame, they used an aggressive, trapping press to create numerous turnovers and secure a 32-26 win.

Ryan Abner had three key steals in the quarter, and he, Peyton Broughton and Byron Rice combined for the final 12 points. Broughton led the way with 12, while Abner had six and Rice four. First-year coach Keith Root also got a good effort off his bench from Trey Feltner, Tanner Elza and Brian Oliver, who tallied 10 points combined. Starters Michael Gilbert and Gabe Fuson, both battling illness, also turned in solid performances.

“Although we are playing a 6th-grade schedule, we only have one sixth-grade starter (Rice),” Root pointed out. “The rest are fithth-graders. So we are going to be physically out-manned sometimes, but we play very hard and are improving every night out.”

The story is the same with the older team, which is playing an 8th-grade schedule, but doesn’t even have a single eighth-grader on the roster. “We are starting three seventh and two sixth-graders,” Root said. “So almost every night there we are smaller and not as strong. But we're talented with this group, and we’ve been in every game so far.”

East Bernstadt used a sizzling second-half against Red Bird, outscoring the Cardinals 33-10 to break open what had been a fairly close game at halftime. “We shot the ball really well tonight, which is a key for us because we are usually going to get outrebounded,” Root said. “And I thought our passing was very crisp tonight as well.”

Austin Thompson led the way with 18, while Zac Lawson threw in 15, Zach Baxter 12 and Elijah Jervis 11. And while Isaiah Collier and Zac Chesnut only comined for two points, “they do the dirty work inside, guarding the post and going to the boards for us,” Root noted.

Joey Johnson added five off the bench, while Austin Begley had two and Caleb Deaton one. East Bernstadt played at Jackson Co. Thursday night. Their next home game will be against Barbourville on Thursday, Dec. 4.





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