Both Russell County and Southwestern came into Tuesday night’s meeting at the Wigwam at opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Lakers of Russell County, to say the least, had the hot hand coming into the match-up, as they had won their previous seven games. The Lakers, who’s record stood at 13-2, hadn’t lost a game since December 1, when they lost to Clinton County.
Steve Wright’s Warriors limped into the contest after dropping three of their last four games, with two of those losses coming to cross-town foe Pulaski County.
But the Warriors got back on track on Tuesday evening, as they came away with a 78-64 victory over Russell County, snapping the Lakers’ seven-game winning streak. It was a big win for the ‘Blue and Orange,’ as they came away with the 14-point win without two starters in the line-up, Justin Edwards and Dylan Gaskin.
The second-year Southwestern coach was glad to see his team get back on track with a win over the Lakers.
“I just felt like it was a matter of time before we started clicking again,” began Wright, who saw his club move to 14-5 with the victory. “Three out of the last four ballgames, we’ve not played real well - injuries and different things have had a lot to do with that. You’re going to have some down times during the year, so now’s the time to have them.”
Southwestern had only four players score in the game, but they received a lot of points from those four players, as each of them hit double figures in the contest.
Junior David Kapinga led the charge for the Warriors with a game-high 28 points. Sophomore Isaiah Collier finished with 20 points. Another sophomore, Adam Isaacs, torched the nets for 16 points, while senior Justin Schulz tallied 14 points and a club-high five rebounds.
“It was a pretty well-balanced attack - we scored on the post, on the dribble, and we made three’s,” Wright stated. “We had some guys that didn’t score who had a heck of a game.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 21-16 lead after one quarter of play and never relinquished their lead to the Lakers. It was an equal attack for Southwestern, as Kapinga scored six points, while Collier, Isaacs, and Schulz, all tallied five points each.
At the break, Southwestern went into the locker room with an 11-point, 44-33 advantage over Russell County. Kapinga scored ten points in the eight-minute frame.
Scoring was equal in the third quarter, as both teams tallied 15 points each. After three quarters of play, the Warriors led by 11 points still, as Southwestern led, 59-48.
Southwestern would go on to win by a final tally of 78-64.
Russell County’s Tyler Robertson came into the contest averaging 21 points per game - and that’s exactly what he finished with, 21 points. Robertson also had eight boards.
Nick Coffey hit double figures, finishing with 19 points and five rebounds.
Though he didn’t score, Wright was tickled with the play of center Brad Estes.
“I thought Brad Estes did an outstanding job guarding the Coffey kid down on the post,” concluded Wright. “Defensively and rebounding, he had a big night for us. He didn’t get a lot of points, but he helped plug the middle. He’s made a lot of progress this year.”
The Warriors, who moved to 14-5 with the victory, will return to the hardwood tonight, when they will host the McCreary Central Raiders at 7:30 p.m. at the Wigwam.
RC - 16 17 15 16 - 64
SW - 21 23 15 19 - 78
RUSSELL COUNTY (13-3): Robertson 21, N. Coffey 19, Mann 7, Ellis 6, Britt 5, Bertram 4, B. Coffey 2.
SOUTHWESTERN (14-5): Kapinga 28, Collier 20, Isaacs 16, Schulz 14.