RHS Marks Senior Night

Thursday, February 18, 2016
RHS senior basketball players, cheerleaders and band members were recognized and honored Thursday night before playing their final home game of the season against Piggott. From Left: (front row) Shaylynn Eubanks, Colby Lynch, Danny Hager, Tori Hill, Torrie Rodriguez and Hannah Huggins. (back row) Emily Huggins, Maddie Chandler, Huston Highfill, Chase Jackson, Kade Scott, Garrett Buck and Lawson Ford.(TD photo/Jessica Rainwater)

The Rector Cougars marked senior night for the class of 2016 Thursday, Feb. 11, hosting the Piggott Mohawks in non-conference play. Prior to the doubleheader, which featured both the senior girls and boys, the senior members of the basketball teams, band and cheerleaders were introduced to an appreciative crowd.

Those in attendance were then treated to an entertaining double-header, with the Mohawks pulling out both wins by a combined total of just 10 points.

Girls Game

Piggott's Brayden Brewer draws the attention of Rector Cougars Lawson Ford, Danny Hager, Huston Highfill and Chase Jackson, as he drives to the basket in last Thursday's contest at RHS.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

The Lady Cougars and Lady Mohawks were meeting for the second time this season, as the Piggott girls took the earlier meeting at home. And, despite a big fourth quarter for the home squad, the visitors pulled out a 44-40 win to sweep the season.

The Mohawks controlled the opening tip, but came up dry on their first trip down the floor. The Lady Cougars answered with a Dominque Coln three-pointer at the other end, but could only muster an additional free-throw in the frame as the Tribe stepped-up the defensive pressure.

As for the Mohawks, they responded with a pair of field goals by Devyn Staples, another from MaKalia Beck, and a raft of free throws. In fact, standout sophomore guard Braelyn Rhodes was fouled four times in the first quarter, and made all eight of the free-throws, as the Mohawks led 16-4 after one.

In the second quarter both teams stepped-up their defensive effort, with the Lady Cougars taking the frame 8-4 to cut the lead to 20-12 at the break. The third quarter was much the same, with the Lady Mohawks edging their hosts by a field goal, 13-11. Late in the quarter Piggott's Colby Crossfield connected on a big three pointer to extend the lead to 13, but Rector's Matison Dean answered at the other end as the Tribe took a 10 point lead into the fourth, 33-23.

But, the Lady Cougars were far from finished, as they mounted a strong late game rally. By mid-way through the quarter they had cut the lead to six, but Rhodes came out of the Piggott timeout for a coast-to-coast layup to push it back to nine.

Late in the contest the Cougars cut the Mohawk lead to three points on a Sophie Adams trey, and again moments later on a Colby Lynch basket, but both times Staples answered with scores on layups.

Adams was then fouled on a three-point shot by Crossfield, and made two of three to cut it to a 43-40 game with under a minute to play. With just over four seconds remaining Rhodes was fouled by Dean, and made the first of two but missed the second as the score moved to 44-40. Dean's last-ditch three-

pointer at the other end was no good and the final was set.

"They're really athletic and we're not very big, but I felt my kids did a good job defensively," Lady Cougar Coach Matt Dean said of the contest. "Early in the game we put them on the free throw line too much, and that hurt us. But, our kids came off the bench and we chipped away and gave ourselves a chance at the end we just couldn't quite get there--it was a good ballgame."

"I felt we came out strong in the first quarter, but after that we just let our guard down and let them back into the ballgame," Piggott Coach Chase Halbrook said of the win. "I felt we could have played better tonight, but we just haven't done well in close games. We just haven't been able to close out close games late, and to do that tonight was a good feeling."

Rhodes led all scorers with 18, including a 9 for 10 night at the charity stripe, while Lynch paced the Lady Cougars with 16 and Staples also had 16 for the Lady Mohawks in the win. Rounding out the scoring for the Tribe, were Crossfield with 5, MaKalia Beck with 3 and Murray with 2. For the home team, Tori Hill finished with 8, Adams had 6, Coln finished with 5, Dean had 3 and Sarah Isom had 2 in the loss.

"The girls got down like 11, but they never quit," Dean noted. "It was a good game for both teams going into the postseason."

"We were trying to look at some different defenses we might use in the district and had some troubles, so we went back to the old man-to-man," Halbrook added. "And, we usually only play five or six, so they may have gotten a little tired."

Boys Game

Last February the Rector Cougars visited the Piggott Mohawks for senior night, and spoiled the Tribe's celebration thanks to a big night by Lawson Ford. Last Thursday the Tribe returned the favor, beating their hosts 66-60 in overtime on senior night at RHS thanks to a big night by the Mohawk bench.

Piggott controlled the opening tip-off, with Quinton Mauldin fouled by Huston Highfill on the first trip down the floor. After converting on one-of-two, the Cougars got a big trey from Chase Jackson as they took the early lead. Moments later Logan Dixon answered with a three-pointer of his own for the Mohawks, but the Cougars went on a run and led 13-4 early.

Brayden Brewer stopped the bleeding at the 3:30 mark with a coast-to-coast drive for the Tribe, as they cut it to 10-6. The visitors then went on a 5-2 run to end the quarter with baskets by Noah May and Brewer, with the Cougars leading 12-11 after one.

The Mohawks regained the lead at 13-11 moments into the second on a Brewer layup, with Mann adding a pair of free throws to make it 15-11. After getting the steal at the other end, Mann was fouled once again on the drive and made 1 of 2, prompting a Cougar timeout.

Later in the quarter, Hager answered for the Cougars with a big three-pointer, and along with free throws by Highfill and Ford helped cut it to a one point lead, 20-19 with 3:30 left in the first half.

Jackson was fouled by Mauldin on a three-point attempt just seconds later, and converted on 1 of 3 to tie the game at 20-20. Senior Beau Jett then responded for the Mohawks with a three-pointer, his first of the game. Ford tried to answer at the other end, and Jackson missed a put-back chance, with Harris clearing the boards for the Mohawks. On the transition Mann hit an open three, as he was en route to a team-high 17 on the night.

Jackson answered with a three-pointer late in the quarter, but Brewer responded with a coast-to-coast drive and dunk, and was fouled by Jackson as well. The free throw was no-good, and the Cougars answered at the other end with a long three-pointer from Ford, to cut it to a two point lead, 28-26 at the break.

The two teams swapped possessions early in the third without scoring, with the drought ending on a Noah May three for the Tribe. Harris also picked up a charge at the other end, one of three on the night. Mann added another trey for the Mohawks, and Highfull was open on a couple of shots down low, as the two teams battled through the third. Hager added a running jumpshot, and Mann answered with yet another field goal, as the score moved to 41-37 late in the period. Both teams nailed three's late in the frame, as the two squads went into the fourth with Piggott on top 45-40.

But, in the fourth quarter the Cougar seniors stepped-up, with Highfill scoring three field goals and a free throw and Ford with two field goals and a free throw. Danny Hager then hit a big trey at the buzzer as the Cougars outscored their visitors 15-10 in the frame to send the game into overtime 55-55.

In the extra frame the Cougars took a brief lead, and tied twice, but Harris notched two big field goals, and was 3 of 5 from the charity stripe, while Mauldin added a deuce and a couple of free throws for the Tribe to set the final score.

"They came out and hit a lot of shots, I think they hit their first four in a row--two threes, and a couple of jumpers," noted Mohawk Head Coach David Reynolds of the rivalry game. "But, we expected them to come out ready to play. Anytime you play a rivalry game like this you're gonna' get their best shot. And, I told our kids they gave us their best shot, and I thought we responded well."

"We did a pretty good job inside, Huston (Highfill) got loose on us a couple of times, and we had to try to contain him, and Lawson (Ford) got away from us a couple of times and hit some big threes, but for the most part we did well defensively," Reynolds added. "Our bench played great, Peyton (Mann) came out and had a big game, Quentin Reeves had some big shots, and Beau Jett had several key threes. For us to succeed, our bench has to contribute."

"I thought we showed a lot of resilience, I thought both teams played extremely well early, it was really exciting," noted Cougar Head Coach Matt Mills. "In the second half we got down, and got in a little trouble, but we kept fighting and scratching and turned it into a really exciting game. I'm really proud of my kids, these seniors are just great kids, and Rector High School won't be the same without them."

Ford led all scorers with 20, while Highfill and Hager were also in double figures with 15 each for the Cougars, Jackson had 7 points and Kirk Beshears finished with 3. Mann led the Mohawk offense, while Harris had 12 points, Jett finished with 9, Brewer had 8, May finished with 6, Mauldin and Dixon had 5 each and Reeves had 4.

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