Grayson County’s Cougars found they had their hands full last Friday in the semi-final round of the Rafferty’s Caveland Classic, at Edmonson County.
The Cougars were facing the Carlisle County Comets, who came in with a record of 8-4 after beating Franklin-Simpson in the opening round.
The Comets were a senior-driven team led by 6-foot, 9-inch, 250-pound Marcus Burnett, and without an inside presence of their own, the Cougars found themselves with no answer.
Burnett was able to score at will inside as his teammates fed him up high for easy lay-ins over the top of the much smaller Cougars. He finished with a game-high 18 points.
But Burnett wasn’t the only player the Cougars had to worry about. The Comets hit six shots from behind the arc, three of them from senior Derik Elliott, who also reached double figures with 16 points. Senior guard Cody Rowe was the third Comet in double figures, finishing with 15 points.
The Comets rushed out to an early nine-point advantage, 13-4 with 4:16 to go in the first quarter. Grayson County then outscored them 6-1 to cut the margin to four points. Braxton Williams capped the run with a put-back basket at the 2:57 mark and it was 14-10.
The Cougars would never be closer the rest of the way. The Comets scored the next seven points to lead by 11, 21-12 with 1:12 remaining. They led by 12 points, 25-13 at the end of the period.
Carlisle scored the first four points of the second quarter to open up a 16-point lead, their largest of the first half. A three pointer from Logan Ramsey and a three-point play by Talon Gary cut it to 10 points, 29-19 at the 5:28 mark.
Williams buried a three-pointer with 3:23 left that cut the Cougar deficit to 11 points, 36-25, but Carlisle’s Kenton Marlow answered right back with a three of his own to make it a 14-point game, 39-25. Grayson County trailed by 15 points, 43-28 at the half.
A 6-1 Comet run at the start of the third quarter increased their lead to 20 points, 49-29 at the 5:04 mark. Grayson County was able to cut the lead to 18 points 57-39 on a 15-footer by Gary with 18 seconds left, but Elliott closed out the scoring with his final three of the game to beat the buzzer and give his team a 21-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Comets led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter before the reserves were brought in and the Cougars were able to whittle the final margin back to 19 points.
Sophomore Lane Rackley came off the bench to lead the Cougars in scoring with 11 points. Williams joined him in double figures with 10 points and added four rebounds. Both Gary and Ramsey closed out their nights with nine points, and Gary led the team with five rebounds.
Senior Dustin Crain added five points and twins Cole and Gage Akridge both hit three-pointers to close out the scoring.