By Don Brown
February 7, 2014
On the night when Grayson County honored some of its finest athletes with Hall of Fame selections, the Lady Cougar and Cougar basketball teams went home with wins in both games of a doubleheader last Friday evening in Cougar Gym.
In the opener, the Lady Cougars beat the Lady Bears for the second time this season 52-40. In the late game, the Cougars surprised the Bears 75-58 to keep hopes alive for a top seed in the 12th District Tournament later this month.
Though Butler County (7-11) led just once in the game, 1-0 after Lynsie Clark hit 1-of-2 at the line 40 seconds into the game, they made this one interesting most of the night.
In the first game against the Lady Bears in Morgantown, the Lady Cougars (11-9) held a 26-point, third-quarter lead before allowing the Lady Bears to close to within 16 points at the end.
This time around the Lady Bears gave Grayson County all it could handle in the first half. The Lady Cougars led by six points, 16-10 after the first period, but when Cheyenne White buried a three-pointer at the 2:05 mark of the second quarter, the lead was down to one, 24-23. Grayson County then scored six straight closing out the half to lead by seven, 30-23 at the break.
Grayson County led by six points 33-27 with 5:39 left in the third quarter when they put their stamp on the game. Sarah Pierce began a 10-0 Lady Cougar run with a three-pointer at the 5:24 mark. Hannah Saltsman completed the run with another three with 2:26 left and the Lady Cougars were up by 16 points, 43-27. They led by 13 points, 44-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
Butler County scored five unanswered points opening the final period of play to draw to within eight points, 44-36 at the 6:31 mark, but they would never be closer.
Clark led the Lady Bears with 13 points. Maddie Stewart and Grace White both scored in double figures for Grayson County, with 11 and 10 points respectively.
Pierce finished with nine points, while Saltsman had eight. Kaylan Shull scored four points, Montana Woosley and Jodi Decker both scored three points, and Allie Horton and Sloane Embry both had two to complete the scoring.
In their previous meeting, the Cougars (7-14) hung with the favored Bears (11-6) for most of the game before fading in the fourth quarter. This time around, the Cougars jumped on the Bears early and never let up.
Playing at a frenetic pace, the Cougars came out pressing the Bears the length of the floor. The high-pressure Cougar defense forced nine first-period turnovers which Grayson County converted into 11 points as the took a 21-8 lead after one.
The Bears tied the score for the second time at 4-4 with 5:05 left in the first period. Grayson County responded with nine unanswered points, and leading 13-4 with 3:42 remaining, they were never headed afterward.
Sophomore Cole Akridge scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half to spearhead the Cougar surge. Grayson County led by 10 points, 36-26 at the half.
Juniors Alex Shellhart and Talon Gary shouldered most of the scoring load in the second half. Shellhart scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, while Gary had 13 of his 18 points. The Cougars pushed their lead to 17 points at the end of the third quarter and maintained that margin until the end.
Butler County’s Zack Burden had a monster night for the Bears, leading all scorers with 31 points. Rex Henderson joined him in double figures with 12 points.
Colton Williams had a good night for the Cougars, finishing with nine points. Senior Bret Johnston added five points, Gage Akridge and Tristan Willis had three apiece, and Tanner Tyra had two to complete the Cougar scoring.