With a number of starters and other players off to the Kentucky Youth Assembly, in Frankfort, the middle school basketball teams faced visiting Hancock County Thursday night in Cougar Gym.
Two weeks ago, the Cougars traveled to Hancock County and came away with a split, the seventh-graders winning 42-38, while the eighth-grade team got whipped 44-29.
This time around, the seventh graders were missing starters Isaac Jarboe, Spencer Sharp and Caleb Ray. Despite that, the Cougars were in the game the whole way and had a chance for the win at the end before falling 30-27.
In the eighth-grade game, little-used Seth Elmore got the start in place of Jack Davis and led the Cougars on the boards with 12 rebounds as they improbably upset Hancock 41-32.
The Cougars got off to a great start, hitting three three-pointers in the first quarter to grab an 11-4 lead. Leading 5-2, Riley Shoemaker buried a three with 1:23 left to make it 8-2. Following a Hancock basket, Shoemaker hit another three with 34 seconds left to make it 11-4 heading into the second period.
Hancock had a lot of trouble with the Cougar zone defense and for the second straight period could manage just four points and the Cougars forged a 13-point lead, 17-4 at the half.
A rebound basket from Elmore at the 4:31 mark and a lay-up by Bryson Lowe with 4:07 left gave the Cougars their largest lead of the night, 12 points at 21-9.
Grayson County still led by nine, 28-19 following a Shoemaker lay-up with 59 seconds left, but back-to-back three pointers by Hancock’s Jaxson Gray and Tanner Singleton cut the lead to just three points, 28-25 heading into the final period of play.
With the game on the line, the Cougars opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to push the lead back up to 11 points, 36-25 with 1:45 left to play, basically putting the game in the win column.
Shoemaker led all scorers with 13 points and added seven rebounds, two assists and three steals. Jordan Stallings had a fine game for the Cougars, finishing with 11 points, two rebounds and two assists.
Lowe finished his night with seven points. Seventh-grader Josh Embry came off the bench to add five points and two boards. In addition to his 12 rebounds, Elmore added three points. Ethan Hayse scored two to complete the Cougar scoring.
In addition to missing three starters, Logan Majors came into the game sporting a fever of 102. Despite that, Majors finished the night hitting four three-pointers and leading all scorers with 12 points.
A three-point play by Josh Embry gave the Cougars a six-point lead, 11-5 at the 2:21 mark, but Hancock closed out the period with six straight to tie it 11-11 as the second period started.
Grayson County could manage just a single point in the second period and trailed by five, 17-12 at the half.
Majors’ third three of the night pulled Grayson County to within two points, 19-17 with 2:38 remaining. Five straight Hancock points made it 24-17 with 1:07 left to play, but a Ryan Johnson bucket with 16 seconds left cut it to 24-19 heading into the fourth quarter.
Cameron Wells opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to make it 24-22 at the 3:48 mark. Following a Hancock basket, Majors hit his final three of the night to pull the Cougars to within a point, 26-25 with 2:31 remaining.
Two free-throws from Josh Embry tied the game 27-27 with 1:52 left to play, but the Cougars would not score again. Hancock’s Cody Axton hit a 15-footer with 1:19 left to put his team in front for good.
Grayson County had four empty trips at the end and Chase Herndon added a free throw with 11 seconds left for the final three-point margin.
Axton led Hancock with 11 points. In addition to his 12 points, Majors added five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Embry scored six points and led the team on the boards with nine rebounds. Johnson finished with four points, Wells had three and Tyler Fields completed the scoring with two points.