By LINDSEY WOOD
After defeating Lee County and Fleming County, the Estill boys’ basketball team clenched an outstanding 81-67 victory—arguably one of the best in school history— against a top-ranked Pulaski team. The Engineers have now won eight in a row, and stand 14-6 for the season.
Estill easily put away the young, struggling Lee County Bobcats last Tuesday. The Engineer offense racked up 93 points, 45 of which came from players in the ninth grade or below. Freshman Dyllon Long led the Engineers in scoring with 22 points. He was followed by Andrew Doty with 15 and Kevin Richardson with 11. Freshman Coben Clem led the team in rebounds, with seven, followed by the Andrew and Lane Doty, who each had five.
Fleming County provided a little better competition for the Engineers, but Estill still managed to dominate offensively. At the end of the first half, Estill was in complete control of the game with a comfortable 37-21 lead. Caleb Bonny did what he does best, racking up 21 points by the end of the night. The Doty twins, J.T. O’Hair, and Long also played substantial roles in the Engineer offense. Estill ultimately won 65-37.
With two more wins under their belt, the Estill basketball team was ready to face Pulaski County on Saturday. The Maroons touted a 15-4 record against a tough schedule going into their match with Estill; their team had been ranked as high as tenth in the state. Senior forward and talented scorer Steven Fitzgerald, junior point guard Colton Fraley, and senior guard Danny Butt promised to be tough competition, but the Engineers certainly had the talent to compete. Bonny told me plainly, “We are good enough to beat them.”
Estill and Pulaski were neck-and-neck in the first quarter, finishing 17-15 with Pulaski in the lead. Bonny got off to a good start offensively, but it was apparent from the start that other team members must play crucial roles in this match: the Doty twins had to combat Pulaski’s size and athleticism on both ends of the court and O’Hair had to shut down Fitzgerald, who averaged 33 points a game. The Engineers played well throughout the first quarter but lost a little ground in the second quarter due to some sloppy turnovers and bad passes; however, they managed to hang on 37-31 heading into halftime.
The second half began much like the first, with both teams were battling for the upper hand. Shortly into the third quarter, the score at 47-41, Estill took an unfortunate blow: their best defender, O’Hair, who had done an excellent job guarding Fitzgerald thus far, fouled out following a personal foul and a technical foul. Despite this loss, the Engineers continued to fight, playing their best on both sides of the ball and finishing the third quarter trailing just 54-49.
After being behind the entire game, Estill would finally challenge the Maroons for the lead. Through a combination of great offensive play—Bonny nailing in field goals and drawing fouls, the Doty twins finishing at the basket— and lock-tight defense, Estill tied the game up 61-61 with three minutes left to play. As the Engineers gained momentum and pulled ahead, Pulaski grew increasingly agitated. Their star player, Fitzgerald, was given two technical fouls and reportedly hurled obscenities at the referee, resulting in a two-game suspension. The Maroons’ head coach then allegedly agreed with his player’s profane comments, and he was given two technicals, as well.
Senior Kevin Richardson would shoot the eight total free throws, missing only one, and putting the final nail in the coffin of this heated match-up. The final score of the game was 81-67.
The Engineers hope to continue their winning streak as they take on Powell County away on Friday, Feb. 2, at 8:00 p.m. and Breathitt County at home on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m.