Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County High junior forward Noah Hale scored four points in the Tigers’ 49-44 victory over visiting Westmoreland.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County High junior forward Noah Hale scored four points in the Tigers’ 49-44 victory over visiting Westmoreland.

The Macon County High School boys basketball team outscored visiting Westmoreland by an 20-9 margin down the stretch, pulling away for a 49-44 victory on Nov. 25 at Nera White Gymnasium.

It gave first-year head coach Adam Bandy his first career victory.

"It's big," Tiger junior guard Isaac Meador said. "It's real emotional. It's Bandy's first win as a head coach. We played for him and for each other."

Macon County opened the season with back-to-back losses, an 18-point setback at Clarkrange and a 46-point loss at Hillsboro.

"We struggled a lot against Clarkrange with the inexperience," Meador said. "We can't simulate that (type of play) in practice. Against Hillsboro, we executed better. We were just outmanned.

"Tonight, we just had to come out and fight. We knew what we had to do. As the year goes on, I think we'll improve and end up being a pretty good ball team."

Bandy added, "As a team, we played better. That's the key, getting better every night. It will just take a while for our chemistry to get there."

Meador -- who is playing for the first time in high school -- was the catalyst during the fourth-quarter run, scoring eight of his team-high 13 points in the period.

"It's surprising in a way, but knowing Isaac and the competitor that he is, it's not surprising," Bandy said. "I know what he can do. I feel like he can do a lot of big things for us."

There were six lead changes in the third quarter, lastly when sophomore Cody Cothron came off the bench to sink a 3-pointer from the left corner with 14 seconds remaining in the period. That gave the Tigers a 31-30 advantage.

Cothron's lone basket sparked the 20-9 run.

"Isaac stepped up and made plays, and Cody Cothron stepped in and made that big three," Bandy said. "That was game-changing."

A free throw by Eagle senior point guard Dawson Mitchell tied the contest at 31 early in the final period, but Macon County sophomore guard Braydee Brooks converted on a driving layin with 6:42 remaining, placing his squad in front to stay.

Meador followed by penetrating into the lane and tossing in a 12-foot jump shot off of a spin move.

Then, on the Tigers' next possession, Meador made a 3-pointer to create a five-point margin.

"I don't shoot the ball as much as I need to," Meador said. "Coach told me to pull up every chance I get at a 15-footer.

"I give credit to my teammates. Everybody was being guarded. Without them being guarded, it wouldn't have been there."

The lead fluctuated between three and six points until the final minute.

Brooks converted on a three-point play with 59.5 seconds remaining, and he made two free throws 35 seconds later, giving Macon County its biggest lead (48-39).

"We talked before the game about being the aggressor," Bandy said. "We said, 'Go win it. Don't sit back.' They did a good job of that."

There were two ties and three lead changes in the first half.

The Tigers scored nine consecutive points in the second stanza, with sophomore forward Dawson Shrum providing five of those points, for a 21-12 lead.

However, a Ryker Hodge basket and a Collin Casteel jumper -- a first-half buzzer-beater -- cut the lead to five points.

Meador tossed in a 3-pointer to start the second half, giving Macon County an eight-point lead, but Westmoreland responded by reeling off the next nine points.

Eagle senior guard Kirby Bickerton scored eight of his game-high 14 points in the first quarter, and Mitchell provided all of his 13 points in the second half. Hodge scored 11 points.

"We watched film on them," Meador said. "We know their offense ran through (Bickerton). We tried to set a limit on him. We did pretty good. We were lazy at times, but we came back and fought through it."

Brooks backed Meador's output with 12 points, and senior teammate Lake Reid provided 11 points. Brooks also grabbed nine rebounds, and junior teammate Noah Hale finished with a team-high 11 rebounds.

The Eagles shot 44% from the field, compared to 34% for the Tigers. However, Westmoreland was just 2 of 14 from three-point range.

Macon County connected on 13 of 17 free-throw attempts and outrebounded the Eagles by a 31-24 margin.

"We absolutely needed this," Meador said. "We had good practice for three or four days.

"Everybody is tired of losing. We couldn't wait to win. We've been looking forward to this. It's a big confidence boost, especially going into district play soon."

Bandy added, "It's huge. We talked after the game ... we got better, but gosh, getting better and winning feels a lot better."

Macon County boys 49, Westmoreland 44

WESTMORELAND (44) -- Kirby Bickerton 14, Dawson Mitchell 13, Ryker Hodge 11, Collin Casteel 4, Easton Crump 2.

MACON COUNTY (49) -- Isaac Meador 13, Braydee Brooks 12, Lake Reid 11, Dawson Shrum 6, Noah Hale 4, Cody Cothron 3.

Half: 21-16, Macon County. Three-point goals: 2 (Bickerton 1, Hodge 1), Macon County 3 (Cothron 1, Meador 1, Reid 1). Records: Westmoreland 1-2, Macon County 1-2.