By SETH LAMAR
Gold Standard Sports Editor
The Eagles and Lady Eagles of Fort Knox traveled up the Dixie Highway Monday night for a doubleheader against Valley High School. The short trip concluded with a pair of games against a familiar opponent in new-fangled surroundings at J.C. Cantrall Gymnasium.
Kip Rambo’s Eagles kicked off the evening with a 64-52 victory over the Vikings, but the Knox boys struggled to pull away from their opponent in the early goings of the matchup.
Knox junior guard Michael Powell opened the game by draining a three-pointer from the wing to give the Eagles an immediate 3-0 advantage on the first possession of the game. Valley’s Colan Dishman answered with back-to-back three-pointers to push the Vikings out in front at 6-3 with little more than a minute gone by. Turnovers eventually created more comfort for the home team as Knox came up empty on a three out of four trips down the floor.
The Eagles trailed 16-11 after a quarter of play, but senior Rashaan Allen’s presence on the boards couldn’t be dismissed as he pulled down eight rebounds in eight minutes.
Valley took advantage of the Knox’s miscues in the first quarter, but the second would belong to Chris Jackson and the rest of the Eagles. The Vikings’ lead eventually grew to 20-13 early in the quarter, but it would be short-lived. It became apparent early on Valley didn’t have an answer for Knox’s Jackson. The junior guard was one of five Eagles to register a basket in the first quarter, but in the second, the scoring load was all his to carry. Jackson scored from inside as well as out with 12 second-quarter points to help the Eagles pull even with the Vikings by halftime.
Tied 25-25 at the start of the third quarter, Rambo’s team appeared poised to make a run. While Jackson ruled the scoring column in the second quarter, Allen took his place in the third. Allen’s athleticism and aggressiveness in the paint proved to be the difference as the senior forward scored the first eight points of the half before an eventual 14 in the quarter. Jackson added another eight points in the third quarter with another pair of three-pointers to put him at 22 points for the game and helped bolster the Knox lead into a 51-33 advantage by the start of the fourth quarter.
Despite an 18-point deficit, Valley was far from laying down for Knox. The Eagles entered the final quarter of play facing the Vikings’ full-court press, which led to Knox turnovers and Valley points. Amid the pressure, Knox was able to slow the pace of the game, but Valley did manage to cut the lead to 62-52 with little more than a minute remaining. The Eagles were able to hold off the Vikings with clock management in the half court and seven points from reserve guard Tarik James. Knox eventually staved off Valley’s late run and took home a 64-52 victory.
The Eagles were led by Jackson’s 22 points and two steals, while Allen commanded the low block with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
The Knox girls followed the Eagles victory by facing off against the Lady Vikings of Valley as the second game of Monday night’s doubleheader.
Knox’s Taeisha Wynder evened up the score at 2-2 in the early moments of the game, but the Lady Eagles would struggle putting points on the board for the remainder of the opening quarter. Christina Rice eventually added another bucket after stealing the ball in the backcourt and going the length of the floor for the score.
The Lady Eagles trailed 13-4 after one quarter of play, but one bright spot of the opening period was Wynder’s activity on the glass with her six rebounds.
Valley’s lead continued to grow in the second quarter, but the Knox girls’ scoring slowly, but surely began to pick up. Haven Noble led the Lady Eagles with three points and five rebounds in the second quarter, but the Lady Vikings’ lead swelled to a 25-11 advantage by halftime.
Knox’s scoring struggles continued in the third quarter as Valley built a 39-14 lead, but the Lady Eagles finally shored up their offense in the fourth quarter. Terrionna Jones, Brenna Stephenson and Byanca Powell led a balanced scoring attack with five points apiece over the course of the final eight minutes of play. Bianca Kelley chipped a three pointer along with a basket from Twaneesa Archie and Wynder as the Lady Eagles outscored the Lady Vikings 22-14 in the fourth quarter.
In the end, Valley’s lead proved to be too much to overcome as the Knox run came too late and resulted in the 53-36 finish.
The Knox teams returned to the court Tuesday night at home for yet another doubleheader against Central Hardin. The Lady Eagles began the evening of basketball with an 83-45 loss to the Lady Bruins.
In the second game of Tuesday night’s doubleheader, the Knox boys found themselves in yet another first half battle and for the second night in a row, went into halftime tied with their opponent.
The first quarter saw four lead-changes and two ties before Central Hardin finished the period clinging to a 10-8 lead.
The next eight minutes of the game would be just as competitive as the first as Knox would rally back from a 13-8 deficit with a 6-0 run to retake the lead at 14-13 with two free throws by Powell, who led the Eagles with seven points in the half.
An 8-0 run gave the Eagles their biggest advantage of the game at 21-16 with 2:11 remaining in the first half. Seemingly at the peak of Knox’s momentum, Powell found Allen on a run out with one man to beat and was called for a controversial charging call. Two points were wiped off the board for Knox and resulted in a six-point swing that allowed Central Hardin to tie the game in the closing seconds before halftime.
Foul trouble began to mount for the Eagles in the third quarter and enabled the Bruins to pull away with a 46-31 lead entering the fourth quarter. Powell fouled out with nine points with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter, which meant Knox would be without one of its leading scorers for the final eight minutes.
The Eagles struggled to narrow the gap between them and the Bruins as the deficit grew to as much as 19 points with less than six minutes remaining. Knox would eventually fall by a score of 63-46 to Central Hardin.
Both the Eagles and Lady Eagles will return to action tomorrow night with another doubleheader when they host Elizabethtown for homecoming. The basketball action will begin with the boys tipping off at 6 p.m. followed by the girls at 7:30 p.m.