The Cougars and Lady Cougars went on the road last Friday evening for a boy/girl doubleheader at Muhlenberg County and came out on the short end of the stick in both games.
The boys played first and it figured to be a close game as the Mustangs came in with a record of just 6-11, but they played like regional champions against the Cougars, blowing them out 70-50. The Cougars were never in the game.
In the late game, the Lady Cougars were coming off a two-point, overtime loss to Ohio County, a team that had beaten them by 21 points in the first game, and were hoping to make it a game against the Mustangs.
They did make a game of it until the last couple of minutes of the first half, when the Mustangs ran away with things. The final score was 71-54.
The Mustangs put their stamp on the game right from the start as they scored the first seven points. Rance Whobrey stopped the run with a put-back basket at 5:03.
Talon Gary scored on a rebound basket with under four minutes to play in the period to make it 9-4, but those would be the last points the Cougars would tally in the period. Zack Tarter’s three-pointer at the 3:21 mark ignited a 12-0 Mustang run closing out the period, which was capped by Courtland Hampton’s three at the buzzer to make it 21-4 at the start of the second period.
The Mustangs led by as many as 19 points in the second period, but the Cougars were able to cut their deficit to just 14 points, 34-20 at the half. Senior Ethan Saltsman, seeing his first action since breaking a bone in his arm back in December, had nine points in the period to help the Cougars in trying to make a comeback.
Muhlenberg County pretty much iced things with a 12-1 run opening the third quarter to open up a 25-point lead, 46-21 with 4:41 left. A Hampton three at the 3:32 mark upped the lead to 26 points, 49-23, then a three-point play by Kaleb Rolley with 2:37 left pushed it to 27 points, 52-25.
The Cougars then put together a 8-0 run, including back-to-back threes by Whobrey and Logan Ramsey to cut the margin to 19 points, 52-33 with 1:31 remaining. Another Whobrey three with 22 seconds left made it an 18-point game, 54-36 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Cougars opened the final period with seven unanswered points to cut the lead to just 11 points, closer than they had been since the first period, but the Mustangs responded with 11 unanswered points to lead 65-43 with 2:43 left and the outcome was decided.
The Mustangs put two players into double figures, led by Dakota McKinney’s game-high 20 points. Rolley finished with 16 points.
Saltsman had 15 points and six rebounds to lead the Cougars in his return appearance. Gary joined him in double figures with 12 points and he also had six rebounds.
Whobrey finished the night with eight points, while Ramsey and Cole Akridge had six apiece. Braxton Williams scored two points and Colton Williams added one to round out the Cougar scoring.
Things looked bleak for the Lady Cougars at the start as Muhlenberg scored the first seven points of the game. But Grayson County turned the tables on them, closing out the first quarter on a 10-1 run to lead 10-8 heading into the second quarter. Kaylan Shull hit a three-pointer in the run and Katie Hayes closed out the scoring by beating the buzzer with the first of her three three-pointers.
After Makayla Sampson scored opening the second period to tie it at 10-10, the Lady Cougars scored six straight to take a 16-10 lead at the 5:30 mark.
The Mustangs pulled back to within three points, 19-16 at the 4:44 mark, but the Lady Cougars scored seven straight to take their largest lead of the game, 10 points at 26-16 with 2:27 left in the first half.
But that would be the high-water mark for Grayson County. The Mustangs scored nine unanswered points to close to within one, 26-25 with 36 seconds left.
Cassidy Swift hit 1-of-2 free throws with 13.9 seconds left, but Sampson beat the half-time buzzer with a three-pointer to cap an 11-1 run and put them in front to stay, 28-27 at the half.
It was all Mustangs in the second half. They opened the third quarter with an 18-2 run to take a 17-point lead, 46-29 at the 3:44 mark. Kerrie Vincent’s three-pointer with 2:17 left capped a 26-6 Mustang run to give them a 21-point lead, 54-33 with 2:17 left.
An 8-0 Lady Cougar run cut the lead to 13 points, 54-41 with 20 seconds left, but they trailed by 14 points, 55-41 heading into the fourth quarter.
A Maddie Stewart lay-in at 7:06 cut the lead to 13 points again, 59-46. Grayson County then had four opportunities to further cut into the lead, but came up empty.
Muhlenberg’s Caitlyn Peterson broke the scoring drought with a basket at the 5:40 mark which sparked a 9-0 Mustang run that pushed the lead back up to 22 points, 68-46 with 4:34 left and it was all over but the shouting.
Muhlenberg County placed three players in double figures, led by senior Amiah Summers, who scored a game-high 17 points. Peterson had 16, and Sampson added 15.
Hayes led the Lady Cougars with 15 points. Breanna Fulkerson had eight points and added four rebounds. Shull finished with seven points and also had four rebounds. Stewart finished with six points and added eight boards.
Three players, Cassidy Swift, Grace White, and Raven Shelton all had four points. Swift led the Lady Cougars on the boards with nine rebounds. Jodi Decker, Sloane Embry, and Jessica Johnson all scored two points to complete the scoring. Embry also led the team with three steals.