RHS Hoops Teams in Action
Matison Dean has easily led the Rector girls basketball team in scoring this season. However, it is the latest single point she has scored that might be the biggest.
The senior knocked down a game-winning free throw with 2.6 seconds left in the game Monday to lift the Lady Cougars to their first win of the season, a 37-36 victory at home against Armorel.
The win helped Rector even its record at 1-1 following a loss at Maynard last week.
In their home opener, the Lady Cougars were tied with Armorel at 26 apiece at halftime before Rector fell behind by a point at 29-28 heading into the fourth quarter. The two teams were again tied in the final minute before Dean scored the game's final point and the Lady Cougars held on at the defensive end of the court for the win.
Dean finished with 14 points to lead the Lady Cougars, while Gabby Clark added 11 points in the win.
Rachel McKuin paced Armorel with 12 points.
Rector opened its senior high season last week against Maynard after a scheduled opener at Ridgefield Christian in Jonesboro was scrapped due to that school not fielding a varsity girls team this year.
Dean had 20 points in that game as she is averaging 17 points through two games of her senior season after ending last year as the team's second-leading scorer.
Maynard led 27-17 at halftime and held the Lady Cougars at bay during the second half for the win.
The Rector junior high team also picked up its first win of the season Monday against Armorel by claiming a 28-21 victory.
The Junior Lady Cougars had lost 36-9 against Ridgefield Christian last week before falling 34-30 to Maynard.
Ellie Ford finished with eight points to lead a balanced scoring attack by Rector against Armorel, while Alysa Gant finished with five points and both Michaela Rients and Rileigh Laden finished with four points apiece.
Both the senior and junior Rector girls teams host Hillcrest on Friday before playing at home against Sloan-Hendrix next Tuesday.
Through three games this season, the Rector senior boys basketball team has been close, but unable to get over the hump against opponents. The Cougars have either led or been within two points of the lead in each game only to come away with a loss.
The Cougars led 46-44 in their opener at Ridgefield Christian before falling 63-56 last Tuesday. Then, in their home opener Friday against Corning, they twice battled back - once to a tie in the first quarter after falling behind and again to within a point in the third quarter - before the visitors used hot shooting from all over the court to win running away, 59-44.
Rector suffered its third loss of the season Monday at home against Armorel, 53-51, in a contest the Cougars led by as many as 14 points at one point.
Part of the reason for the early struggle is a team that has only been on the floor together as an entire team for a couple weeks, basically the season itself., It is not uncommon, coach Matt Mills said, for football players to join their basketball teammates right before the season starts and all players having to learn to play as a team on the fly.
"I thought our kids played extremely hard tonight but it was evident that we have only had a few practices together," Mills said of the Corning game. "We looked very uncomfortable all night on both ends of the floor. I would expect that we will improve quickly."
Corning kept threatening to pull away in that game, but each time Rector sprinted back to within reach of the lead - until the fourth quarter when the visitors shot eight for 10 from the field to finally pull ahead and away for good.
Mills said his team's defense broke down in the late going against Corning. But he added the effort never did as his team's will was never broken in the loss.
"We certainly didn't quit," he said. "We battled back."
Cody Ails paced Rector with 13 points against Corning, while Kirk Beshears added 12 points and freshman Max Ford, playing his first varsity home game at home, finished with eight points.
Against Armorel, Mills admits his team let one slip away. The Cougars led nearly the entire way and had a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game miss its target.
"I thought we played much better tonight, especially on the defensive end," said Mills. "We showed flashes of a team that could make some noise late in the year. We simply did not finish against a good team."
Ails finished with 18 points on six 3-pointers for the Cougars to provide offensive punch. He made a trio of shots from beyond the arc in the first quarter, two more in the third quarter and one more in the fourth.
Beshears added 12 points for Rector while Trey Rodden finished with eight points and Ford chipped in with six points.
Mills said there are plenty of bright spots for his team, but patience is needed to balance with expectations.
"I saw a lot of things I like," he said. "We've just got a lot of work to do. It's going to take a while."