Cougars Notch Key Conference Victory

Thursday, December 18, 2014
Nick Hardin glides in for a layup against CRA during the teams' matchup in Rector

The Cougars split a pair of barnburners this past week, edging out 2A-3 foe Cross County on the road in Cherry Valley Friday night after dropping a heartbreaker on a last second heave to Crowley's Ridge Academy this past Tuesday night in Rector.

Rector posted a 46-43 victory over the hosting Thunderbirds of Cross County Friday night, holding off the hosts with a timely three-pointer from senior Landen Crancer and a bucket from senior Nick Hardin down the stretch. The victory improved the Cougars to 2-2 in conference play and 6-4 overall.

"We're playing so hard right now in senior high," Rector coach Matt Mills said. "The thing is we're still trying to find ourselves offensively. We've scored in the 40s in four of our last five games, and I feel like in our league we need to score in the 60s. We can't play any harder than we have been, but we need to figure out some things on offense moving forward."

The Cougars led after each quarter: 11-10; 25-18 and 36-28.

Hardin led Rector with 15 points. Crancer netted 11 in the win. Also scoring for Rector were Chito Martinez 5, Garrett Buck 5, Houston Highfill 4, Lawson Ford 3, Skyler Shockley 2 and Mason McCluskey 1.

Austin Phelan led Cross County with 10 points on the night.

The Junior Cougars fell in their meeting with Cross County, 37-26.

Rector trailed 19-13 at intermission, but rallied to take a one point lead, 26-25, heading into the fourth frame.

Hunter McNeely led the Junior Cougars with 11 points on the night. Also scoring for Rector were Sam Simmons 8, Kirk Beshears 5 and Hunter Householder 2.

The Junior Cougars are now 2-2 in conference play and 2-7 overall.

CRA Loss

The Cougars fell to the visiting Falcons of CRA, 53-50, on a buzzer-beating shot from just past half-court by the Falcons' James Scott. CRA inbounded the ball with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game, and Scott managed a quick dribble before launching the shot.

The Cougars forced a tie on a huge three-pointer from the corner by Crancer with three seconds remaining, after which CRA called timeout. The Cougars trailed by six points, 40-34, to start the final frame, but were able to tie the game at 47-47 with 1:57 remaining on an and-one layup conversion by Hardin. Scott scored on a layup and made one of two free throws in the final minute to put CRA ahead 50-47 with just under 30 seconds left. The Cougars missed on their next possession, but Ford darted in to tip the rebound and McCluskey chased down the loose ball to keep the ball on Rector's side of the court. RHS called a timeout with 10.1 seconds left, drawing up Crancer's three-point shot.

CRA led 11-10 and 23-19 after the first two quarters, respectively.

Buck led the Cougars with 14 points on the night. Ford finished with 10. Also scoring for Rector were Danny Hager 9, Crancer 8, Hardin 5 and Chase Jackson 4.

Scott finished with 30 for CRA.

The Junior Cougars blasted CRA, 51-32, on a big night from Beshears. Beshears paced all scorers with a game-high 22 points in the victory.

Rector led at each break in the action: 14-9; 25-18 and 38-28.

Simmons joined Beshears in double figures, netting 13 on the night. Also scoring for the Junior Cougars were McNeely 8, David Hatfield 4, Dalton Brown 2 and Kale Hardin 1.

The Cougars are set to host rival Marmaduke beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. The senior boys are set to take part in the annual Northeast Arkansas Invitation Tournament at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro when the eighth-seeded Cougars meet the ninth seed Augusta at 12 p.m. Dec. 23. The winner will advance to face top seed Bay at 9 p.m. on Dec. 27. The semifinal contest is set for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 with the final slated for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31.

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