Facing the Butler County Bears in a boy/girl doubleheader last Friday night in Cougar Gym, Grayson County came up with a split.
In the opener, sophomore Maddie Stewart poured in 32 points and junior Kaylan Shull scored 21, and the Lady Cougars took care of the Lady Bears 71-56 to get a little revenge for a two point loss in Morgantown at the start of the season.
In the boys’ game, the Bears proved once again to be possibly the best team in the district this season as they pounded the Cougars 64-52.
In their first meeting back in December, the Lady Bears scored on a last-second shot to beat Grayson County 58-56. This time around, things were different.
The Lady Cougars never trailed, though the game was tied once, 11-11 late in the first quarter. The Lady Cougars closed out the first period with six unanswered shots to take a 17-11 lead into the second period. They would not give the lead up the rest of the way.
Butler County’s Lynsie Clark scored with 2:23 left in the half to pull the Lady Bears to within two points of the lead, 25-23, but the Lady Cougars outscored them 11-4 the rest of the period to take a nine-point advantage, 36-27, into the half-time intermission.
The third quarter became a three-point shootout as both teams combined for seven shots from behind the arc. Stewart opened the quarter with back-to-back lay-ins to give the Lady Cougars their largest lead so far, 13-points at 40-27 at the 7:05 mark.
Madeline Drake stopped the Lady Cougar run with a three-pointer with 6:45 left, before Shull hit a lay-in at 6:25 to push the lead back to 12 points, 42-30.
Drake hit another three with 5:48 remaining, but Sarah Pierce hit one at 5:23 to make it 45-33. Butler County then hit three straight threes, two more by Drake, and the last one from Allie Easley, to cut the Lady Cougar lead to just three points, 45-42 with 3:23 left to play in the period.
The Lady Cougars outscored the visitors 9-5 the rest of the period, including another three-pointer from Cassidy Swift, and they led by seven points, 54-47 as the fourth quarter began.
When the Lady Cougars opened the final period with an 11-2 run, including a three by Pierce, they held their largest lead of the night, 16 points at 65-49. Butler County was never closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The Lady Bears put two players into double figures. Drake led her team with 19 points, including five threes, while Shawna West had 15 points.
In addition to her 32 points, Stewart pulled down five rebounds and added three steals. Shull led the team with six rebounds and added four assists.
Swift scored seven points and had four rebounds. Pierce scored four points and led the world with 12 assists. Breanna Fulkerson and Katie Hayes had two points apiece and Grace White added one to complete the scoring.
After being the dominant team in the 12th District for the past several years, the Cougars find themselves taking a back seat to the Bears. After their win over the Cougars on Friday, the Bears are a perfect 4-0 in the district and seem a lock for the top seed come tournament time.
Grayson County, meanwhile, is struggling without an inside presence after Ethan Saltsman went out in December with a broken bone in his forearm. They come into nearly every game with a distinct height disadvantage and must live and die by outside shooting.
The lead changed hands twice and there were two ties in the first quarter, the last coming at 10-10 following a Talon Gary lay-in with 3:11 left in the period. The Bears then scored the final five points of the period, including a three-pointer by Brandon Thomas, to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Butler County led by as many as eight points in the second period, 25-17 with 1:25 left to play. Gary scored on a put-back basket with 53 seconds left before Trevor Jenkins answered with a lay-in with 25 seconds left to make it 27-19. Gary then hit a three-pointer with four seconds left to cut the Cougars’ deficit to five, 27-22 at the half.
The Cougars tried to make a game of it at the start of the third quarter when they opened with five straight to tie it at 27-27 at the 6:50 mark, but the Bears responded with nine unanswered points to take back control, 36-27 at the 4:39 mark.
Grayson County answered back with six straight, including a Braxton Williams three-pointer, to cut it back to three, 36-33, but the Bears ran off 10 unanswered to go up by 13 points, 46-33 with 1:06 left. They led by 11 points, 46-35 as the fourth quarter began.
The Bears led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter before both teams let their subs finish out the game. The young Cougars were able to outscore the Bears 9-3 over the final two-and-a-half minutes to make the final score a bit more respectable.
Jenkins led all scorers with 19 points, while Alex Hall had 12 to join him in double figures.
Gary led the Cougars with 18 points and he pulled down eight rebounds as well. Williams joined Gary in double-figure scoring with 13 points, and also had eight boards.
Three players, Dustin Crain, Wyatt Skaggs and Colton Williams each had five points, while Bret Johnston, Cole Akridge, and Zac Williams all had two.