By Don Brown
Summer basketball came to Cougar Gym Monday morning as the Lady Cougar varsity hosted Hancock County’s Lady Hornets and the Butler County Lady Bears.
In their first matchup, the Lady Cougars fell 53-32 to the Lady Hornets and their defending 3rd Region Player of the Year, Beth Rates.
Grayson County bounced back in the second game to win 54-33 over Butler County.
The JV Lady Cougars won a pair of one-sided games, 47-11 over Hancock County, then 37-22 over Ohio County.
VARSITY vs HANCOCK COUNTY
Hancock County will return four of five starters from last year’s team which reached the semi-finals of the 3rd Region Tournament and gave the Lady Cougars all they could handle. They showed they will be one of the forces in the region next season.
Rates had just eight points in this game, but controlled the boards for the Lady Hornets and denied the Lady Cougars any easy shots under the rim.
Incoming senior Audry Hawkins did most of the damaged for the Lady Hornets, leading all scorers with 15 points.
Hancock County never trailed in the game after scoring the first six points, then racing to a 13-4 lead with 10:58 left in the first half.
A three-pointer by Jodi Decker pulled the Lady Cougars to within three points of the lead, 13-10 with 9:45 left, but the Lady Hornets increased the lead to 12 points, 27-15 at the half.
When the Lady Hornets opened the second half on a 7-2 run, they had doubled up on the Lady Cougars, 34-17. Two Decker free throws at the 13-47 mark closed the gap to 10 points, 34-24, but that would be as close as Grayson County would be the rest of the way.
Sara Pierce led the Lady Cougars in scoring with nine points, while Decker had eight. Maddie Stewart scored six points and added four rebounds and five steals. Grace White scored five points, while Cassidy Swift and Katie Hayes had two apiece.
VARSITY vs BUTLER COUNTY
The Lady Cougars have been undefeated in the 12th District for the past seven years, but the Lady Bears may be thinking they can put an end to that streak in the upcoming season after Grayson County graduated six seniors this past year.
But Grayson County showed in this one that those thoughts may be premature as they never trailed in this game.
A Butler County three-pointer with 10:11 left in the first half made it a one-point game, 10-9, but the Lady Cougars answered with 15 straight points, capped off by a Sarah Pierce three-pointer to grab a 16-point lead, 25-9 with 4:01 left in the first half. They led by 12 points, 27-15 at the half.
Kaylan Shull’s three-pointer at the 17:04 mark capped a 7-0 start to the second half to increase their lead to 19 points, 34-15 and the game was pretty much decided. The Lady Bears were never closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Cassidy Swift led the Lady Cougars with 11 points. Shull had 10 points and shared the rebounding lead with Stewart with six each. Breanna Fulkerson scored nine points, while Stewart finished with eight.
Pierce and Taylor Higdon scored five points each, while Grace White had four and Dessarae Mudd had two to round out the scoring.
JV vs HANCOCK COUNTY
Grayson County scored the game’s first 10 points, including a Katie Hayes three pointer, before the Lady Hornets got on the board with two free throws at the 13:54 mark.
The Lady Cougars then scored the next 13 points to lead 23-2 with 4:18 left in the first half and the game was pretty much decided. They led by 20 points, 25-5 at the half.
When the Lady Cougars opened the second half with 11 unanswered points, it was all over but the shouting.
Sloane Embry led the Lady Cougars with 12 points. Katie Hayes had eight, Grace White had seven and Jodi Decker and Dessarae Mudd had five each.
Breanna Minton and Hannah Salsman had three apiece, and Sarah Pierce and Allie Horton had two each to complete the scoring.
JV vs OHIO COUNTY
The Lady Cougars opened by scoring the first eight points. The Lady Eagles began to fight back and closed to within two points, 8-6 at the 8:40 mark.
Grayson County then closed out the first half with am 10-2 run to lead by 10 points, 18-8 at the half.
When the Lady Eagles opened the second half with eight straight points, they trailed by just two points, 18-16.
The game stayed close until the Lady Cougars reeled off eight straight to turn a three-point lead, 23-20 at the 12:43 mark, into an 11-point lead, 31-20 with 5:02 left to play. They later scored the final six points of the game to win going away.
Decker led the team with nine points, while Hayes had eight. Embry, Pierce and White all had six points, while Salsman closed out the scoring with two points.