KNOXVILLE – The beginning to the 2020-21 basketball season didn’t go Grainger’s way as the Grizzlies dropped a 59-52 road decision to the Knights of Knoxville Christian Tuesday night.
The Grizzlies fell behind early as the Knights scored the first 11 points of the game and Grainger found themselves in a double-digit hole several times throughout the contest. To their credit however, the Grizzlies kept chipping away and was able to narrow the KCS lead to five or less points on several occasions. They never could get over the hump unfortunately in their season opening loss.
“When you watch enough sports, you will see when a team that gets behind, they exert so much energy trying to claw back in it, it’s hard to do,” Grizzlies head coach Adam Wolfenbarger said of his team’s shooting woes early in the game that produced the big hole they attempted to climb from. “We are going to eventually make shots because everyone has seen these guys make shots in the past. Foul trouble was also an issue tonight. Jaxon Williams doesn’t play but probably eight minutes total in the game and that takes away a lot from our offense. We will make shots but the issue is we were tight tonight and with no pre-season scrimmages, we just can’t simulate the kind of defensive pressure Knoxville Christian had tonight.”
Despite the disappointing loss in game one of the new season, Wolfenbarger said it’s early and he is confident his team has the ability to bounce back and improve going forward. “Everything we did wrong tonight is correctable. I’m not down right now and we have been in this situation before. We will get things right, that’s a promise.”
Brody Grubb, Emmanuel Atkins and Ty Overbay all scored 12 points to lead the Grizzlies. Ja’Mel Yarbrough paced the Knights with 15 points, Jayden Fine added 14 and Luca Grethler added 10 for KCS.
The Grizzlies didn’t score until the 3:50 mark of the opening quarter when Grubb connected on a three-pointer.
After trailing 19-5 at the end of the first, the Grizzlies found some rhythm in a three-minute stretch in the second as they went on a 14-2 run to get the lead down to 24-21 on a basket by Atkins. Grainger could only produce one more point in the first half, however, and found themselves trailing 29-22 at the half.
The Knights had another quick spurt to begin the second half as they reeled off the first right points of the third period but once again, the Grizzlies found some life and sliced the advantage to 39-34 on two free throws by Atkins. Overbay owned the last part of the third period as he scored the final four points to make it a 46-38 contest headed to the fourth.
After the Knights increased their lead to double digits at 11 points, here came the Grizzlies again as Tristan Warfield banged home a three, as did Williams. A layup at the 2:06 mark by Overbay cut the lead down to four points at 54-50 but the Knights were able to ice the game away at the line to prevail 59-52.
The Grizzlies will be on the road once more as they travel to take on North Greene Thursday night.