The Pirates started out on some rough seas this season. They dropped their first five games of the season, and 11 of their first 15. They lost their head coach before mid season. Injuries plagued them all season.
For some that would spell doom. But not for a Pirate.
In stepped assistant coach Blake Williams, the team got healthy and things began falling into place. Entering their regular season finale last Tuesday the Pirates had won six of their last eight games. The team even looked like a contender in a loss to Letcher Central. But there was still one game to go before tournament time.
Last Tuesday Powell hosted their neighbor to the north, Montgomery County. Powell looked good at times, but the Indian’s quickness, speed and size helped them to upend Powell, 69-63.
The Indians jumped out to quick 9-2 lead and pushed it out to 20-10 after the first quarter. Powell looked a little timid early on, missing open shots or rushing shots. The Pirates settled down some in the second frame, but still had to fight off some turnovers. Montgomery started spreading out their offense, forcing Powell to come out on defense. That allowed a few easy backdoor scores. The Indians led 36-25 at the half.
Powell came out more comfortable and with the Senior Night emotion worn off for the third quarter. DaShaun Williams, Colby Cook, Bryce Merion and Chimaobi Ajuonuma-Creed started playing more like they have in recent weeks. The result was a Pirate assault on the Indians defense. Creed and Merion went inside, while Cook started hitting the outside jumpers. Williams connected on short range shots and drove the ball to the basket as well.
Powell began chipping away at the lead. When Cook outback a missed shot with :31 to play in the third quarter, the lead was cut to three, 44-41.
The battle continued in the final frame. Montgomery went on a run to but Powell stayed close. The visitors were able to once agains spread the floor and push their lead to 61-52 with 2:31 to play. But Pirates never say die. Powell began another comeback drive. Merion and Williams led the charge and the 11-4 run. That run was capped off when Williams hit two charity tosses with :25 to play to make it a 65-61 game.
The rest of the game was played at the free throw lines. Montgomery hit the shots when needed and Powell just fell a little short. The Indians held on to win, despite a valiant effort by Powell, 69-63.
Merion led Powell with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the game. Creed poured in 17 points and grabbed 13 boards. Williams tossed in 15, while Cook chipped in 10 points and five rebounds.
Powell finished the regular season with an overall record of 10-14, but are 5-1 in district play to grab the top seed in this week’s 56th District Tournament at Owsley County. The Pirates were set to play Lee County in the first round this past Monday. Powell swept the season series over Lee with ease. The winner will play the Estill-Owsley winner on Thursday in the championship game. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.