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Though the Marion County High School boys basketball team isn't playing with a full deck, the Knights (3-0) are off to their best start since 2005 when they opened the season 7-0. That team finished 16-12 and featured sharp shooting Brian Osbourne.
This year the Knights are playing small ball on their way to some exciting victories, including a 66-60 thriller over Adair County at the Roby Dome last Tuesday night.
The Knights are 3-8 against Adair County since 2005, and last beat the Indians on Dec. 30, 2006. Despite a rough stretch over the last five seasons, the Knights have a 15-11 edge over the Indians since 1999.
Marion County 79, Washington County 43
Junior Kendrick Knopp poured in a career high 25 points against Washington County on the road. Knopp was seven for 12 (58 percent) from the three-point line and 2-2 inside the arc.
Junior Deshawn Douglas chipped in 14 points and five assists while senior Austin Spalding added 11 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds.
"(Austin Spalding) has come into his own," Head Coach Tim Peterson said. "With our football players out, he's been forced into a position to take a lot of responsibility. He stepped up his role and has been playing all the positions. It's worked in his favor to become a better player."
Eleven different players broke into the scoring column for the Knights as they knocked off the struggling Commanders.
Marion County 66, Adair County 60
On Tuesday night of last week, the Knights did something they've rarely been able to do by beating Adair County. With 6-7 Darren Ballou out of the paint and Nick Fudge not beating the Knights press, the Indians looked out of sync compared to the last several years.
Spalding helped the Knights climb out of a 22-10 hole after the first quarter and poured in a career high 29 points on 14 of 16 shooting from the floor. He was 8-8 in the second half.
Mark Corbett came up big for the Knights as well 15 points and clutch three-pointers down the stretch. Deshawn Douglas added 10 points and four assists for the Knights.
"Austin kind of carried us through the stretch," Peterson said. "When he plays like that you just have to jump on his back and let him carry you."
With the win, the Knights give themselves an advantage in a very tight district.
"I think holding court at home is important. Knocking somebody off on the road will give someone an advantage," Peterson said. "I hope everything we do between now and Jan. 2 will help in preparation for Campbellsville game."
Is Peterson surprised by the team's 3-0 start despite losing a key player in Chuck Elder before the season and playing without much size until the football players work their way into the system?
"A little bit," he said. "The big hurdle was Adair County at home. Getting that was crucial. Washington County and Garrard County are rebuilding but we're happy to have early games like that. Adair was a big win for us. Gives us a little confidence heading into this week. We're off to a good start but the teams we're playing are not as good. We'll keep everything in perspective. We'll see how we respond this week to some tough competition."
To find out tip off times this week for the Knights, check out the preview story in this week's edition.