Cougar Boys Hit the Hardwood
It's been a busy week for the Rector Cougars and the action will continue full force in the early stages of the 2015-16 basketball season. The Cougars opened with losses at Corning and Armorel and were scheduled to play Tuesday night at Maynard.
They will open conference play at home Friday night against the Marked Tree Indians as part of the Hall of Fame Classic. Another HOF game against Manila is set for Saturday. Then it's on to Earle on Tuesday of next week in additional conference action.
The Cougars suffered a close loss, 52-48, Friday night at Corning in their season-opener.
Rector led in the early going, on top 18-11 after the first quarter and jumping ahead by 10 early in the second frame on a three-pointer by Danny Hager.
The Cougars still had a comfortable lead late in the frame, 28-19, after a basket by Lawson Ford. But the host Bobcats scored the final five points of the quarter to close it to 28-24 at intermission.
Noah Bass gave the Bobcats their first lead of the second half on a three-pointer with seconds to go in the third, making it 39-37. Hager then responded with a dramatic three-point shot from beyond the half-court line at the buzzer, giving the Cougars a 40-39 lead heading into the final frame.
Corning rolled off the first six points of the fourth quarter and maintained the lead the rest of the way in a closely-fought game.
Rector had a chance to take the lead on a three-point shot with less than 30 seconds to go, but the attempt failed and the Bobcats put the game away with two free throws with 11 seconds left.
"I thought the kids played extremely hard," Rector coach Matt Mills said. "We are not shooting well and we are not finishing around the basket. We also aren't running our plays like we should.
"In the Corning game, I thought we had a hard time adjusting to the referees, who called the game tight."
The Bobcats made 13 of 26 free throws in the game, compared to 4-8 for Rector.
"In senior high we just need time," the coach said, noting the Cougars had only four practices together prior to the opener. "There is no doubt in my mind some great basketball is coming."
Ford and Hager led the Cougars in scoring with 18 and 14 respectively. Ford had four treys and Hager netted three. Other scorers for Rector were Chito Martinez 7, Chase Jackson 3, Easton Tracy 3, Garrett Buck 2 and Kirk Beshears 2. Bass had 22 for Corning.
The Cougars faced extreme shooting woes in a 43-23 loss at Armorel on Monday night. Quarter leads for the hosts were 9-0, 14-7 and 25-15.
Coach Mills said it was one of the worst shooting performances ever for one of his teams.
He noted the Tigers, a large team, "packed it in" and gave the Cougars the outside shot. The strategy worked as the Cougars were 4-25 from three-point range (two coming from reserves late in the game) and 5-24 on two-point shots.
"We had high-quality shots," the coach said. "I can look back and think there was maybe one poor shot that was taken. We just couldn't make them."
"We absolutely got after them on defense," Mills said, noting the Cougars limited a team that had been regularly scoring around 70 to 14 points in the first half. "It was just a matter that we couldn't find the bucket."
Hager led Rector scoring with eight points. Also scoring were Jackson 5, Tracy 3, Hatfield 3, Martinez 2 and Highfill 2. Winters had 13 for Armorel.
The Tigers were 10-19 from the charity stripe, while Rector went 0-2.
Junior High Action
The Junior Cougars fell to Corning and Armorel to open their season.
Corning posted quarter leads of 18-9, 33-13 and 47-22 on their way to a 56-33 victory.
Scoring for Rector were Max Ford 8, Evan Dooley 5, Shannon Patterson 4, Parker Bucy 4, Kale Hardin 3, Trey Rodden 2, Lastin Lindsey 2 and Michael Hart 1. In double figures for Corning were John Kimble 20, Steve Lowe 14 and L. Barazus 11.
Corning hit 14 of 33 free throws while Rector went 9-20 from the line.
In a contest that was close most of the way, the Junior Cougars fell 38-30 to Armorel. The host Junior Tigers led 17-12 at intermission.
Rodden led Rector with 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Also scoring were Ford 6, Lastin Lindsey 3, Bucy 3, Colton Lindsey 2, Conly Lockhart 2 and Dooley 2.
Armorel made 15 of 29 free throws compared to 2-6 for Rector.