Lady Cougars on a Roll, Ranked Second in State 2A Poll

Thursday, January 16, 2014
Lady Cougar Kendal Gunn goes up strong against Marked Tree's Lexi Perry in Rector's key conference, and Class 2A, victory Monday night.

The Rector Lady Cougars further strengthened their ranking as the number two team in Arkansas Class 2A with a 63-52 win over the Marked Tree Lady Indians, who entered the evening ranked sixth in 2A, Monday night in Rector.

The Lady Cougars used a balanced attack to pick up the crucial victory, with four players scoring in double figures. Bekah Scott paced Rector with 15 points in the win. Anna Blackshare, 14 points, Kristen Smart, 12 points, and Kendal Gunn, 11, also notched double digits in the scorers' column. Bailey Haney, seven points, and Marla Crancer, two, rounded out the Lady Cougars' scoring.

Rector struck from beyond the arc to establish an early lead. Gunn hit a pair of treys in the first frame, while Smart and Haney each added one from deep in the opening stanza. When the dust settled, the Lady Cougars emerged from the period with a 16-8 advantage.

Blackshare went to work attacking the basket in the second frame, pacing Rector with seven points in the period, as the Lady Cougars took a 32-24 lead into halftime.

RHS used an 8-0 run during the middle of the third to build up to a double digit lead. Blackshare connected on a three-pointer, while Smart scored in transition and Scott added a layup and a free throw to cap the critical stretch.

Marked Tree closed the gap to as few as eight, 47-39, later in the third, but a key three-pointer by Gunn with 41 seconds remaining and a leaner inside by Blackshare with 17 seconds left in the stanza held off the surge, allowing the Lady Cougars to roll into the fourth with a 52-39 lead.

The Lady Cougars continued to lead by double figures much of the fourth frame.

Rector did a good job of overcoming Marked Tree's size advantage inside by utilizing their total team speed, especially in transition. Often, the Lady Cougar offense was already in place and working to score by the time Marked Tree's post standout Lexi Perry reached the defensive end of the court.

"That's something we looked to do against them, get down the floor as quickly as we could and try to catch them at a disadvantage, and it worked," RHS coach Matt Dean said. "They've got Jay Perry who can get after you on defense the whole length of the court and Lexi Perry is so tough inside. We knew it would be to our advantage to get down the court and be set up as soon as possible."

The win improves the Lady Cougars to 21-4 overall and 7-2 in 2A-3.

"It feels good," Dean said of the win and the Lady Cougars' standing in Class 2A. "If you look at our conference, we've got three of the top teams in the state. There are no easy nights in our conference or really throughout all of 2A basketball."

Rector entered the night ranked second, while Marmaduke is currently sitting at fourth in 2A and Marked Tree ranked sixth.

The Junior Lady Cougars notched a big win in their meeting with Marked Tree, coming away with a 37-26 victory.

The Lady Cougars trailed throughout the first half: 9-4 after the first frame and 15-11 at intermission, but bounced back in the second half to come away with the win. Matison Dean had a huge second half for Rector, netting 18 of her 22 points in the third and fourth stanzas. Rector led 23-20 after the third quarter and pulled ahead in the final frame.

Emma Hobbs and Maddie Hobbs netted six points each for the Junior Lady Cougars on the night. Sophi Adams, two points, and Sarah Isom, one, rounded out the scoring.

"That's a nice win for our junior high team," Dean said. "I thought our defense was much improved from where it was earlier in the year. That's our goal: to continue to improve across the board."

The Lady Cougars are set to join the boys' teams in a four game night beginning at 4 p.m. Friday when Augusta comes to Rector. The Lady Cougars are set to host Riverside beginning at 6 p.m. Monday before welcoming McCrory beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23.

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