By GAVIN LAPAILLE
Gold Standard Sports Editor
The Fort Knox High School boys basketball team lost a heartbreaker Monday night to Caverna, falling 80-77 in overtime at Caverna High School. The Eagles led by nine points with just over five minutes remaining in regulation, but faltered late to surrender the lead.
“We did everything pretty well until we got that lead,” Fort Knox head coach Kip Rambo said. “Then we started playing like we were behind.”
Poor passes and missed shots plagued the Eagles down the stretch, as Fort Knox fell to the Colonels in their season-opener for the second straight year. The Eagles actually had the ball with a two point lead and roughly 20 seconds left in regulation, but saw a pass sail over the head of senior Kyle Gibson to give Caverna one final shot.
The Colonels took advantage, missing a three but getting a tip in right before the buzzer to send the game into overtime. The extra period went back-and-forth, and the Eagles had one final chance to win the game down one, but a missed three with 3.2 seconds left gave the ball back to Caverna and sealed the game.
“We got into a hole we couldn’t get out of to come back and win the game,” Gibson said. “A couple of mistakes at the end hurt us.”
Senior Chris Jackson led Fort Knox with 23 points and had seven rebounds, while Gibson had 18 points and five steals. Senior Michael Powell notched a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Despite the poor ending, the Eagles showed flashes of resilience throughout the game. Fort Knox trailed 27-19 after one quarter, but battled back to take a 40-38 lead at the half. The Eagles were able to stretch that margin to 56-49 at the end of three, and Caverna never was able to take the lead until overtime.
“It’s very disappointing,” senior Tier Blanco said. “We had that game. We just let it slip away.”
Rambo said the team did well at rebounding and executing the team’s game plan, but were disturbed when the Colonels switched to a zone.
“We were getting to the hole at will but when the zone came in, we didn’t shift gears,” Rambo said. “We stayed in that man to man mentality and you can’t do that. You have to be a little more patient and force that zone to move a little more.”
The Eagles won’t have long before they get a chance at redemption on the court, with three games on the schedule for the upcoming week. The first of which comes today against Kentucky Country Day, which will be the home opener for the Eagles following the girls game. Last season, Fort Knox fell to the Bearcats 58-44.
Fort Knox opens district play right after, hosting the North Hardin Trojans Friday and the defending district and region champion John Hardin Bulldogs Tuesday.
The players said they will use what they learned from the Caverna game to help them moving forward.
“We’ll use it as a motivator,” senior Michael Armstead said. “Last year we started 0-3 and we came back. We’ll be fine.”