Round two of Johnson County’s biggest rivalry held up to the hype last Friday night as the Golden Eagles of Johnson Central made the trip over to Bill Mike Runyon Court to visit the Paintsville Tigers.
In front of a sellout crowd, the two teams didn’t disappoint, with Johnson Central escaping the Tiger den with a 68-62 57th District win over their rival.
Jacob Rice put the Golden Eagles in front early with a three pointer to start the game. He scored on a drive just over a minute later as did Isaiah May when he was fouled on his three point attempt. May made all three to put Paintsville in an early 8-0 hole.
Paintsville’s Nick Keeton finally got the Tigers on the board with his basket underneath with 5:54 to play in the opening period, but the one-two punch of the Golden Eagles’ Cory Vanhoose and Rice quickly pushed the lead back out to 19-8 with 1:43 left to go in the first.
Paintsville pulled closer as Colby Fugate scored six points in the first quarter and the Tigers trailed 21-16 after on quarter of play.
The Golden Eagles opened the second period with a 5-0 run going up by 10 points at 26-16 before they were answered by Fugate on a drive. Brady Dingess, who, tweaked his ankle in the Huntington Prep win, was back and his jumper cut the lead to 26-20 with 5:26 to go before the break.
Johnson Central seemed to keep it just out of reach as the Tigers were gaining a little momentum. Rice pushed the lead back to 10 points with his drive to the basket, but Paintsville’s Braxton Tharp had an answer as he nailed a three pointer with just 2:58 to play in the second to cut the lead to 32-27.
The two teams exchanged two more buckets as time wound down, but a missed box out assignment led to Rice tipping the ball back in on a miss as the halftime buzzer sounded, giving the Golden Eagles a 36-29 advantage heading to the locker room.
Rice and Vanhoose led Johnson Central each scoring 12 first half points apiece.
Fugate scored 10 points in the first half for Paintsville. The Golden Eagles really took advantage of second chance points in the first two quarters. They held a 16-4 edge in that category.
Coming out of the halftime, Johnson Central stuck to their game plan. Vanhoose attacked the rim scoring four early points as the Golden Eagles held a 42-31 lead with 5:34 to play in the third after a John King bucket.
Brady Dingess came up big for the Paintsville hopes, however, as he hit back-to-back three pointers to cut the Johnson Central lead back to 10 points at 47-37. At the end of three quarters, Johnson Central held a 52-43 lead.
It looked all but over for the Tigers in the fourth period. Paintsville stormed back with big performances from Fugate and Keeton pulling the game to within one point for a time. In the end, it wasn’t enough as the Golden Eagles pulled out the district road win over their rivals.
Johnson Central was led in scoring by Vanhoose with a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds. He was followed by Rice with 22 points and three rebounds. King had 12 points and eight rebounds in the win.
Paintsville was led in scoring by Fugate with 19 points. He was followed by Keeton with 16 points. Dingess rounded out scoring for the Tigers with 13 points.
Johnson Central (19-5) will be back in action Thursday as the Golden Eagles welcome Lawrence County.
Paintsville (14-5) will welcome Letcher Central Thursday. Both games slated for a 7:30 pm tipoff.