The middle school Lady Cougar basketball teams traveled to Butler County last Monday to take on the Lady Bears and came away with a split of the two games.
In the opener, the seventh grade girls overcame a nine-point, second quarter deficit to record a 38-34 victory to improve to a perfect 5-0 on the season.
The eighth-graders, however, suffered their first loss of the year when they could not hold an eight-point, fourth-quarter lead and fell to the Lady Bears by a 44-39 score.
SEVENTH GRADE GAME
This game was more or less decided at the free-throw line. Both teams went to the line 22 times during the game, but the Lady Bears (1-5) hit just four of those shots for a frigid 18 percent shooting.
Grayson County was not spectacular from the line, hitting 13 for 59 percent, but it was more than enough to give them the advantage.
Kaylee Masden’s three-pointer at the 4:25 mark opened the scoring for both teams, but the Lady Cougars would not score again until Bailey Snyder hit a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining. By that time, Butler County had scored 10 unanswered points and took a 10-5 lead into the second period.
When the Lady Bears scored the first four points of the second period, they held a nine-point edge, 14-5. The Lady Cougars then began to mount a comeback, outscoring the home team 10-5, capped off by two more Snyder free throws with 26 seconds remaining, to cut their deficit to just four points, 19-15 at the half.
Kenzie Renfrow scored on a put-back basket at the 3:03 mark of the third quarter to cut it to a two-point game, 19-17, but the Lady Bears scored three straight to push the lead back to five points, 22-17 with 2:20 left.
Back-to-back baskets by Masden and Keragan Collard cut the margin to just one, 22-21 with 14 seconds remaining and that’s was the score as the fourth quarter got under way.
A 15-foot jumper by Masden at the 4:32 mark put the Lady Cougars into the lead for the first time since her opening jumper at 25-24.
The Lady Bears got back-to-back lay-ups from Maddie Cardwell to retake the lead 28-26 with 3:37 left, but the Lady Cougars responded with eight unanswered points to take a 34-28 lead with 1:25 left and they would not trail again.
Butler County twice pulled to within three points in the closing moments, the last time coming at 37-34 following a three-point play from Dixie Garnier, but that would be as close as they would come.
Cardwell led all scorers with 15 points, while Kasidy Graham added 10 for the Lady Bears.
Masden led the Lady Cougars with 12 points and added six rebounds. Renfrow, who was undoubtedly the smallest player on the court, joined Masden in double figures with 10 points, added six rebounds, and led the team in assists, with three, and steals, with six.
Snyder was 6-of-7 at the free-throw line and finished with eight points and four rebounds. Collard finished with six points and added seven rebounds and four steals. Kandler Lindsey had two points to complete the Lady Cougar scoring and she led the team on the boards with eight rebounds.
EIGHTH GRADE GAME
This game might have been a preview of the battles between these two teams over the next few years, with leaders Hannah Saltsman, from Grayson County, and Maddy Murphy, from Butler County, battling each other for dominance.
Saltsman finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Murphy had 20 points. Her rebound totals were unknown, but she had a number of key boards, especially late in the game.
As the seventh-grade team did, the eighth-grade Lady Cougars (4-1) took an early lead, only to fall behind later.
Saltsman scored the first four points of the game for Grayson County, but the Lady Bears responded by going on an 11-1 run to lead 11-5 at the end of the first period.
Butler County (3-3) increased its lead to 10 points twice in the second period, the last time coming on a Murphy rebound basket with 2:04 left Saltsman scored on a three-point play with 33 seconds left to cut the halftime margin to seven points, 17-10.
Grayson County opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run to take their first lead since early in the first period, 20-19.
The Lady Bears regained the lead 23-20 with 1:45 left, but the Lady Cougars scored the last six points of the period to lead 26-23 heading into the final period of play.
Saltsman’s lay-up with 3:47 left gave the Lady Cougars their largest lead of the game, eight points at 34-26, but the Lady Bears answered with six straight, including a pair of free throws and a put-back basket by Murphy, to cut it back to two points, 34-32.
Saltsman buried a three-pointer at 2:22 to give the Lady Cougars a little breathing room at 37-32, but four straight from Butler County cut it to one, 37-36 with 1:13 left to play.
Saltsman scored on a short jumper to make it a three-point game, 39-36, but those would be the last points the Lady Cougars would score.
Cardwell scored on a rebound basket to make it 39-38 before Saltsman went to the line for a bonus opportunity with 27 seconds left. She missed the first free throw, and when Murphy scored on a put-back at the other end, the Lady Bears were on top 40-39.
Murphy was fouled on the play, but she missed the free throw. The Lady Cougars seemed to have the rebound, but it went off a knee and out of bounds to the Lady Bears. Cardwell then scored on a lay-up to put her team up by three points, 42-39 with 10 seconds left.
Saltsman went back to the line in the bonus with 4.8 seconds left, but her first free throw went around and out and Murphy grabbed the rebound and was fouled. She then hit both shots to give her team a hard-fought win.
Cardwell joined Cardwell in double figure scoring with 19 points.
MacKenzie Edwards had eight points for Grayson County and led the team with three assists and five steals. Masden hit a pair of three-pointers for her six points. Breanna Frank and Brandi Minton both had two points to round out the Grayson County scoring.