By Gaylen Duskey

A much improved Calhoun team had visiting Ritchie on its heels for just about the whole game but in the end the Rebels were able to right the ship at the free throw line and post a 49-46 victory over the Red Devils Thursday night.

Ritchie scored its final seven points at the free throw line to repel Calhoun's spirited charge.

Calhoun led for a good portion of the game, not surrendering the lead until Ritchie's Andrew Davis hit a three-pointer to give the Rebels a 30-27 lead with 5:57 remaining in the contest.

Calhoun then got a big break which could have been a six-point swing had it been able to convert at the free throw line. With 5:46 remaining a Calhoun player was fouled and on the same play a Ritchie County player was whistled for a technical foul.

The first of the one-and-one for the personal foul was missed then both free throws for the technical foul missed, Although Calhoun, which kept possession of the ball on the technical call, scored a field goal to cut the margin to one, 30-29, the golden opportunity to regain the lead had slipped away.

And that was all the break the Rebels, 3-2, needed.

For every charge Calhoun, 1-6, made Ritchie was able to deflect it away thanks in large part to the 19 free throws the Rebels shot in the final period. Although the Rebels made only eight of those they came at the most opportune time - down the stretch.

Andrew Davis was the biggest nemesis of the Red Devils as he scored the Rebels last five points - all at the free throw line. Davis was Ritchie leading scorer with a game high 16 points. He and DJ Burgess, who had 10, were the only two Rebels to hit double figures.

Calhoun's only double figure scorer was Ryan Slider with 13. Ritchie, which beat Calhoun 72-41 in the season opener, looked as if it were going to make a runaway of this game too as it jumped on top 10-2.

But the Red Devils were patient on offense and tenacious on defense and were able to cut the lead to three, 10-7, at the end of the first period.

Calhoun forged ahead in the second period, outscoring the Rebels 9-4 taking a 16-14 halftime lead.

Calhoun continued its patient play out scoring the Rebels 10-9 in a slow-moving third quarter setting up the Rebels 26-17 fourth quarter rally that lifted them to victory.

Mason Sheldon backed Slider with eight while Trent Phillips added seven, Ricky Hall six, Luke Moore five and Tyler Gerwig and Lucas Wilson two apiece. Sam Brady played but did not score.

Sheldon led Calhoun with 10 rebounds while Slider had nine. Moore had four assists and Slider had four or Calhoun's five steals.

Calhoun had a little better luck in the reserve game as it took a 26-24 victory over the Rebels I a game that was shortened to three quarters because of a flu outbreak at Ritchie County High School that limited the Rebels to eight players.

Calhoun led virtually all the way and had to hold off a Ritchie charge in the fourth quarter during which the Rebels played the last 44 seconds with only four players on the floor.

Brady was the key player for Calhoun in the final period as he scored six of his game-high 13 points.

William Baker backed with eight while Tyler Tanner added three and Nick Watkins two.

Dakota Jarvis, Ethyn Miller, Luke Sheldon, David Workman, Austin Gribble, Riley Cain and MyKia Holbert all played but did not score. Brady and Tanner led Calhoun, 2-5, with nine rebounds apiece. For Ritchie Bradley Leggett led the way with 13 while Seth Cottrill added five and Dustin Miller four.

Calhoun will return to action Jan. 3, 2013 at home against Roane County.

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