Lady Cougars Set for Regional Action

Thursday, February 27, 2014
Lady Cougar Kendal Gunn adjusts in mid-air during district tournament action against Marked Tree.

The Lady Cougars hope to shake off a tough loss to Marked Tree in the semifinals of the 2A-3 District Tournament this past Thursday at Monette in order to make a postseason run, starting with the 2A-North Regional Tournament at Pangburn. The Lady Cougars, the 2A-3 third seed, are slated to face 2A-2 second seed Salem beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday. With a win, RHS would meet the winner of Wednesday's Marmaduke-Tuckerman contest at 7 p.m. Friday. The third place contest will be held at noon Saturday. The final is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

"We're looking forward to postseason play," RHS coach Matt Dean said. "Hopefully, we can play well and go a long way."

Salem, like Marked Tree, has the potential to create matchup problems for the Lady Cougars.

"Salem has two good guards and a good big girl in the post," Dean said. "They could give us some problems, especially inside. We've got to come out and hit our shots early and get after them on defense. We're going to look to spread the floor and create openings to let our shooters go to work."

Rector was unable to find their rhythm against Marked Tree in the district tourney, falling 54-38.

Marked Tree started the contest strong; even a break in the first quarter which saw all in attendance asked to seek shelter in the locker rooms and secure areas of the BIC gym for roughly 15 minutes during a tornado warning was not enough to derail the Lady Indians' momentum. Marked Tree led 9-5 when the warning was announced and play was stopped with 2:55 left in the opening quarter. Kristen Smart hit a trey for the Lady Cougars, but Marked Tree outscored RHS 6-3 over the remainder of the period to take a 15-8 advantage.

Rector managed just five points in the second stanza, jumpers by Smart and Kendal Gunn in addition to a Gunn free throw, while Marked Tree seemed to hit its stride. The Lady Indians, led by the lightning-quick Jay Perry, rattled off 18 points in the second quarter to move ahead by 20, 33-13, at halftime.

Coming back from such a deficit is unfamiliar territory for the 28-6 Lady Cougars, as an abundance of isolation and forced shots continued to hinder the squad. Rector trailed 44-27 entering the final frame.

Rector, typically a perimeter threat of the highest caliber, managed just four three-pointers in the contest. The Lady Cougars also struggled with free throws, converting just six of 10 attempts.

"We can't dwell on that game," Dean said. "We've got to put it behind us and move on. We've got veterans on this team and they know there's another challenge ahead that we have to focus on right now."

Marked Tree benefited from a disparity in free throws, sinking 16 at the line in 23 attempts.

Gunn and Smart led the Lady Cougars with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Bailey Haney added seven points for RHS. Tori Hill and Brittany Fair rounded out the Rector scoring with two points each.

Jay Perry notched 25 points for Marked Tree. Lexi Perry, 13 points, and Dez Reel, 10, were also key contributors for the Lady Indians.

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