Going on the road Monday night to Hancock County, the middle school Cougars came home with a split of the two games.
On a cold, wintry night in Hawesville, the eighth-grade team was even colder from the field as they went down to a 44-29 defeat to fall to 5-4 on the year.
Behind Josh Embry’s 15 points and Isaac Jarboe’s 13 rebounds, the seventh-grade team took control of a close game in the third quarter and went on to record a 42-30 win to improve to 8-1 for the year.
A Logan Majors three-pointer and a rebound basket by Jarboe gave the Cougars an early 5-0 advantage, but Hancock closed the period with threes from Brandon Lucas and Parker Newby to take a 6-5 lead into the second period.
Caleb Ray opened the second quarter with a three-pointer and Embry followed that up with a lay-in at the 4:35 mark to give Grayson County a 10-6 lead.
Hancock answered with five straight to regain the lead at 11-10 with 3:16 left in the first half. Back-to-back baskets by Embry and a 16-footer by Spencer Sharp gave the Cougars a 16-11 lead with 2:34 left. They led by one, 16-15 at the half.
The two teams traded baskets at the start of the third quarter, with the lead changing hands five times in the first minute of play. Embry hit 1-of-2 at the line to tie things at 21-21 with 3:20 left in the period.
Hancock’s Jaxson Gray hit a pair of free throws at the 3:14 mark to make it 23-21. That would be the last time Hancock County would be in front.
Majors hit another three with 3:06 left to put the Cougars in front to stay, 24-23. Ray hit another three with 2:32 left and Embry scored on a lay-up with 1:40 to go and Grayson County took a 29-23 lead into the final period of play.
Embry opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets to give the Cougars a 10-point lead, 33-23 and they never looked back. Lucas led Hancock in scoring with 11 points.
In addition to his 15 points, Embry pulled down five rebounds and added two steals. Majors finished with nine points and added two steals. Jarboe just missed a double-double with eight points.
Ray also had eight points for the Cougars, while Sharp had two to complete the Cougar scoring. Sharp added three rebounds and a pair of assists.
This was a miserable night for the eighth-grade Cougars as they missed shot after shot, many of them from right under the basket, all night long.
Grayson County took 14 shots in the first period alone and missed every one of them. Their only point came from Jack Davis as he hit 1-of-2 at the line with six seconds left in the period to avoid the shut-out. The Cougars trailed 10-1 heading into the second quarter.
They did not fare much better in the second period as they went 3-of-15 from the field. Despite that, they were able to pull to within four points of the lead, 13-9, with 1:56 left in the period. But they would not score again in the half and Hancock added two three-pointers to lead by 10 points, 19-9 at the break.
For the half, the Cougars were 3-for-29 for a frigid 10 percent shooting, but, amazingly, they were still within striking distance.
With his eighth-grade starters doing little to help, coach Shawn Majors brought in the seventh-graders in the third quarter to see if they could make a difference. Josh Embry’s lay-up with 1:20 left in the period pulled the Cougars to within seven, 26-17, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way.
Hancock’s Cameron White scored on a rebound basket with 30 seconds left and was fouled. His three-point play put Hancock back up by 10 points, 29-19 as the fourth quarter began.
After Jordan Stallings scored at the start of the final period to make it 29-21, Hancock scored seven straight, including back-to-back threes from Jaxson Gray and John Fox, and Hancock led by 15-points, 36-21 at the 4:11 mark. The Cougars were never closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
For the game, the Cougars hit just 11-of-53 shots from the field, a little over 20 percent. White led Hancock County with 10 points.
Davis led the Cougars with nine points and eight rebounds. Stallings had eight points and added seven boards. Embry finished with four points and added two rebounds.
Eli Thomas and Trenton Godby each had three points, and Ethan Hayes had two to round out the Cougar scoring.