Lady Cougars Notch NEA Title, Boys Fall to CC
The Rector Lady Cougars won the NEA Tournament Division I title Friday in Jonesboro, throttling the Lady Patriots of Palestine-Wheatley 42-20. Ellie Ford led the team in scoring with 13 while Gabby Clark had 12, Kena Parrish had nine, Michaela Reints had six and Sawyer Hendrix finished with two. Clark, Ford, Parrish and Reints were also named to the All-Tournament team.
Meanwhile, the boys team was not as fortunate as they were upset in the second round after getting a bye in the first.
The Rector boys drew a bye in the first round and took on Cross County in the second. In what turned out to be a back-and-forth affair, the two played into the fourth quarter even. In that final frame the game evolved into a free throw shooting contest, with the Thunderbirds enjoying a distinct advantage.
Both teams came out cold in the first quarter of play of the game, played Saturday, Dec. 22, with the Cougars pushing to a 9-4 lead after one.
The Thunderbirds responded in the second quarter with a 13-2 run, as they took a 17-11 advantage into the locker room at the break. In the third quarter the Cougars responded, as they took the frame 11-4 to tie the game at 22-22 entering the fourth.
Spending the majority of the fourth quarter at the free throw line, the Thunderbirds enjoyed much greater success as they pulled to the lead. In the pivotal fourth quarter the Cross County squad was 13 of 19 from the line while the Cougars were a dismal 5 of 13 from the stripe.
Adam Romine led the Rector squad with 12 points, although he was shut out in both the second and fourth quarters. Max Ford had seven points, all in the fourth quarter, while Kale Hardin and Trey Rodden finished with six points each and Colton Lindsey had a three-pointer to his credit. Thunderbird big man Hunter Like led all scorers with 17, including 8 for 13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
With the loss the Cougars fall to 7-7 overall, although they remain at 4-1 in 2A-3 conference play. They'll return to action on Friday, Jan. 4, as they host the Bay Yellowjackets in conference play. Saturday, Jan. 5, they're scheduled to host the Piggott Mohawks for a matinee set with all teams in action. Tip-off for the first game is set for 2 p.m. at RHS.
As reported last week, the Lady Cougars advanced over Marked Tree in the first round of the NEA Tournament in the Division I bracket. On Friday, Dec. 21, they squeaked out a win over the Manila Lady Lions by a final of 41-39 to advance to the title game. Friday they were scheduled to take on the Lady Patriots of Palestine-Wheatley for the Division I championship.
The Lady Cougars got off to a strong start in their game with Manila, jumping to a 14-4 lead en route to a 20-9 advantage by the end of the first quarter. The Lady Lions answered with a 5-0 run to start the second, cutting the lead to 20-14. Swapping baskets late in the first half, the RHS girls maintained a 26-20 lead at the break.
The two teams battled throughout the third frame, with the Lady Cougars holding on to a 33-26 advantage entering the fourth quarter of play.
But, the Lady Lions wouldn't give up easily, as they battled back and tied the game at 35-35 mid-way through the fourth quarter. Kena Parrish got a big basket for the Cougars to again take a late lead, but Manila answered and the game was tied at 37-37 with 1:39 to play in regulation. Once again swapping baskets, the score stood knotted at 39-39 with less than a minute to go.
With 52 seconds showing, Ellie Ford drove for a basket to give the Lady Cougars a 41-39 lead. Missing the front end of a one-and-one moments later, they gave Manila one last chance at the win. But, the Lady Lion shot was no good and Ford controlled the rebound to end the contest and set the final score.
Parrish led the team with 14 points on the game, while Ford finished with 11, Michaela Reints had nine, Gabby Clark finished with five and Sawyer Hendrix had two points in the win. For Manila, Bailey Hampton finished with 17 to lead all scorers.
With the wins over Manila and Pal-Wheatley the Lady Cougars improved to 9-8 overall, and remain 0-5 in 2A-3 conference play. They'll return to regular season play on Monday, Jan. 7, as they'll host the Lady Greyhounds of Sloan-Hendrix in conference play at RHS.