Rector Boys Host Mohawks
The Rector Cougars hosted the Piggott Mohawks in non-conference boys basketball on Thursday, Feb. 2, with the squads splitting games. The Junior Mohawks rolled to a win in the early contest, with the host Cougars coming out on top in the varsity nightcap by a seven point margin. In an abbreviated seventh grade contest the host team also prevailed.
Despite playing without starting guard Easton Tracy, the Cougars held their own with the somewhat bigger Mohawks in their contest, as they took advantage of a strong start, and second half, to post the 64-57 win.
Quentin Reeves drew first blood for the Mohawks, as they got the first two field goals of the game. But, Cody Ails answered with the first three of his four three-pointers on the game in the frame, and the Cougars pushed to a 13-11 advantage after one.
Piggott's Peyton Mann opened the second with a three-point basket to tie the ballgame early in the period, and moments later the Mohawks moved to a 16-15 lead. Coming out of a Rector timeout, the Cougars got another trey from Hunter McNeely and re-took the lead.
The two squads continued to swap baskets in the second quarter, with each scoring 15 in the frame to give the Cougars a 28-26 halftime advantage.
Following intermission the tightly-played contest continued, with McNeely pacing the Cougars with 8 in the period as they outscored their visitors 15-13 in the third, and took a 43-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter the Cougars pushed the lead to 45-39, before Piggott's Josh Lyman would answer with his only three-pointer of the game. Trey Gossett followed with a put-back for the Tribe, and Rector's Sam Simmons missed the front end of a one-and-one. Moments later Max Ford fouled out for the Cougars, sending Gossett to the line where he made them both, cutting it to a 49-44 Rector lead.
The Mohawks pulled to within three points several times in the fourth quarter, and with just under a minute to play a Gossett three point basket cut the lead to two points, 57-55. But, once again the Cougars answered from both the floor and the free-throw line, as they extended the lead to 62-57 with under 30 seconds to play. Ails then hit a pair of free throws late, setting the final score at 64-57.
"It was a big game for us, I've felt like all year we have not beaten anybody that was as good or better than us--and Piggott is just that. If they're not better, then they're just as good," Cougar Coach Matt Mills noted later. "They're so big, and so long, we had trouble keeping up with them on the floor and keeping them away from the basket but we survived. We needed a close game and we got one."
As for Mohawk Head Coach Seth Medlen, he noted the Tribe still has room for improvement at both ends of the floor. "I didn't think we really played that great, although we kept it close the whole game. There at the end of the game we were forced to foul, and we fouled who we wanted to foul, and got it down to a two-point game." he explained. "But, when they came down and shot and missed we just stood there and didn't move at the lane lines, and they went in and got the rebound and we had to foul again."
Gossett led all scorers with 20 for the Mohawks, while Ails and Simmons both had 16 for the Cougars. Also in double figures were Reeves with 14 for Piggott while McNeely finished with 11 and Kirk Beshears had 10 points for Rector. Others scoring for the hosts included Kale Hardin with 6 and Ford with 2. The Mohawks also got 7 points each from Mann and Brier Staples, 6 from Fuller and 3 from Lyman.
"They didn't miss their free throws, they shot well all night, and that was the game," Medlen added of the Cougars night. "They shot the ball well, but when we're missing easy ones it sure doesn't make it an easy game."
As a team the Mohawks were an excellent 9 of 11 from the charity stripe, while the Cougars converted on 12 of 18 free throw attempts.
"They came out and did a little gimmick on Cody Ails, which is what a lot of them do, but we shot good enough to get them out of it and I felt that was the key to the game." Mills surmised. "Sam Simmons and Hunter McNeely made some big shots, and Sam hit a couple of huge free throws."
The Piggott Junior Mohawks had little trouble with the host Rector Junior Cougars Thursday evening, sprinting to a 16-6 lead by the end of the first quarter en route to a 61-32 decision.
Leading the offensive assault for the Tribe was Jackson Henfling with 28, while Michael Palmer was also in double figures with 12, Holden Tarno had 9, Cooper Harris finished with 5, Ben Holcomb had 3 and Brandon Seal and Hunter Smith had 2 points each. Leading the Cougars in scoring were Adam Romine with 13 and Lastin Lindsey with 12 while John Hendrix and Joseph Baker had 4 each, Landon McClung had 3 and Keaton Speer scored 2 points.
The seventh grade game also went to the Cougars, as they edged the Piggott seventh graders by a final of 28-23.
The senior Mohawks will be hosting the senior Cougars Friday evening at PHS, as the Tribe marks senior night for 2017. Both squads will then prep for their respective conference tournaments the following week.