The way they played Thursday night, you sort of wonder, if the Caldwell County Tigers would like a mulligan on their first two games of the season. The Tigers looked nothing like the team that started off 0-2 as they got big games from several players on their way to an 83-78 upset win over Paducah Tilghman in the Kentucky 2A Championships Thursday night at the CAB.
While the Tigers had some stretches where they had troubles with the Blue Tornado’s defensive pressure, Caldwell County used an incredible rebounding effort, and timely shot making to keep Tilghman in arms length reach. Then, when the game was on the line, Derrin Boyd took his game to an even higher level, and sealed the Tiger’s win with clutch free throws and a thunderous dunk.
Tilghman opened the game taking a quick 6-0 lead. However, in a good indicator of how this one would play out, the Tigers roared back, and after a John Davis three had cut the lead to 8-7. Tilghman got a couple of threes from Eli Brown and extended the lead to 18-13 at the end of the first.
Caldwell County opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run to tie the game at 20-20, and the battle was on. A Tripp Branch three with 1:48 to go in the half gave Caldwell County a 29-24 lead and had a cranked up Caldwell County crowd roaring with approval. The Blue Tornado, however, was not going away. Tilghman finished the quarter 8-2 to take a 32-31 lead at the half. Tyus White drained a three at the buzzer to give Tilghman the lead.
The third quarter was an intense toe-to-toe battle. Neither team led by more than five in the quarter. When it ended, Tilghman was clinging to a 2 point lead.
On three occasions in the final quarter, Tilghman looked like it was about to take control of the game, pushing the lead out to five points. But, as they had done all night, the Tigers clawed their way back into the game. With Tilghman up 65-60, Caldwell County made its big push to get to the front for good. The Tigers took off on a 17-5 blitz to take a 77-70 lead with 1:22 to go. Derrin Boyd and Tripp Branch hit key shots during that stretch.
Tilghman would cut the lead to three, but Derrin Boyd knocked down two free throws with 13 seconds to go to seal the win.
Derrin Boyd wound up with 28 points in the game, 15 in the final quarter, including 9-9 at the line down the stretch. Tripp Branch connected for 18, including 4 3-pointers. John Davis added 11, and Cayden Fraliex had 10 in an all-around balanced effort.
Tilghman was led by Rodriguez Thomas with 16 points, while Tyus White added 14.
The win, which was Caldwell County’s 4th in a row, improves the Tigers to 4-2 on the season. Their next name in the Kentucky 2A Championships will be January 10 at Webster County.