Rector Cougars Are 2A-3 District Tourney Champs
The Rector Cougars took on the Bay Yellowjackets for the third time this season Friday night in the 2A-3 district tournament championship game at Monette. After dropping games 47-38 and 65-48 to the regular season champs, the boys in blue were looking for redemption. Helping their cause was the fact the Jackets had to go into triple overtime against the host Mustangs to advance to the title game, while the Cougars pulled away late to beat Marmaduke in the earlier game on Thursday.
Facing their neighboring rivals after dropping the last two, the Cougars had their eyes on the title game last Thursday—although they had already earned a spot in this week's regional at RHS. On the night the outside game was key as senior Trey Rodden and junior Adam Romine had 15 each, while senior Kale Hardin had a strong game inside and finished with nine despite early foul trouble.
Looking to keep the winning streak alive, the 'Hounds came out strong and pushed to a 14-11 lead by the end of the first. The Cougars made some adjustments in the second, and took the frame 16-11 to take a 27-25 halftime advantage.
Neither team scored well in the third quarter, with the Greyhounds taking the frame 9-8 to cut the Rector lead to 35-34 going into the fourth quarter. But, in the final frame the Cougars dominated both ends of the floor, and at the free throw line, outscoring their rivals 17-4 in the frame to set the final at 52-38.
“I thought we played with so much guts throughout the whole game,” Coach Matt Mills said afterward. “Things didn't go well for us in the first half, they came out and shot well and I felt that everything that could went their way. But, the last few minutes of the second quarter we just finished tough, and I think that was the difference in the game.”
Of the halftime adjustments, Mills noted they were subtle.
“We made a few, but nothing major,” he explained. “It was just one of those things where our kids wanted to win and they defended that way in the second half.”
Mills also noted the play of Hardin was key to the success.
“I was really proud of Kale because he struggled early. He traveled a couple of times, and missed a gimme—but in the second half he played with great toughness and great poise and came through when we needed him to.”
In addition to the scoring of Rodden, Romine and Hardin, Max Ford finished with eight, Drake Lindsey came off the bench for three points and Evan Dooley had two. Leading all scorers was Marmaduke's Austin McCoy with 17 while Billy Elder finished with 12.
While the Cougars had a fairly easy route to the finals, the Bay Yellowjackets needed three overtimes to beat the host BIC Mustangs 49-43 in their semi-final game. Tied at 37-37 at the end of regulation, they remained knotted at 39-all at the end of both the second and third extra frames before the Jackets pulled away with a 10-4 third OT.
Returning to Monette the following evening, the Rector and Bay squads played even until the later stages as the Cougars pulled away for the win. Swapping baskets throughout most of the first half, Bay enjoyed a 28-25 advantage at intermission. But, the Cougars stepped up the pressure in the third and took a 42-39 lead into the fourth quarter. Down the stretch they extended the lead to five, posting the 57-52 win.
On the night Ford had a huge game both inside and outside, scoring 17 of his game high 28 in the second half of play. Rodden was also in double figures for the Cougars as he had 11.
With the win the Cougars moved to 17-10 overall while Bay falls to 23-12. Both also qualified for this week in the 2A-North Regional Basketball Tournament at Rector. (See additional story)