The middle school Cougars made the long trip to Greenville on Thursday to take on the Muhlenberg South Suns and had to come home after absorbing a pair of losses.
In the opener, the Suns broke open a close game in the second half on their way to a 46-25 win over the Cougars. In the eighth-grade game, the inability to put the ball in the basket and some ice-cold shooting from the foul line spelled doom for the Cougars as they lost 47-30.
The Cougars trailed by as many as six points in the first quarter, but they closed out the period on a 7-2 run to close to within a point of the lead, 9-8 heading into the second quarter.
The lead changed hands four times in the second period before the Suns went on top to stay. Ty Vincent hit a 15-footer at the 2:05 mark to put the Suns up 13-12 and they never trailed again.
Spencer Sharp hit a three with 12 seconds left to pull the Cougars to within three points, 18-15, but Shane Clairs beat the buzzer with a rebound basket to give the Suns a five-point lead, 20-15 heading into the halftime break.
The Suns increased their lead to nine points, 26-17 on a rebound basket by Joseph Grubbs with 3:22 left to play and they maintained that edge at the start of the fourth quarter, 32-23.
After the Suns opened the final period with a basket to increase their lead to 11 points, Josh Embry hit a pair of free throws to cut it back to nine again, 34-25. Those would be the last points scored by the Cougars the rest of the way. The Suns closed out the game by scoring 12 straight to win going away.
Clairs led all scorers with 12 points, while Vincent had 10.
Three Cougars, Embry, Sharp and Logan Majors all scored six points, while Isaac Jarboe had five. Jarboe also led the team on the glass with eight rebounds. Sharp finished with two points to complete the scoring.
This eighth-grade team has struggled to score all season and this game was no exception. Add to that that the Cougars shot just 28 percent from the free-throw line, 5-of-18, and it was a perfect recipe for a loss.
The Cougars tied the game at 2-2 following a lay-in by Jordan Stallings at the 5:19 mark. The Suns then reeled off 11 unanswered points and led 13-2 heading into the second period.
The Cougars went to the foul line six times in the second quarter, including twice in bonus situations, but could hit only one shot. They missed both front ends in the bonus. Still they were able to shave three points off their deficit and trailed by just eight, 19-11 at the half.
A 5-0 Cougar run cut the Suns lead to five points, 21-16 with 2:49 left in the period, but the Suns closed out the third quarter with 11 unanswered points to take complete control of the game, 32-16 at the start of the final period of play.
Grayson County opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run to close the gap to eight points, 32-24 with 5:15 left to play, but that would be their last gasp. South finished the period by outscoring the Cougars 15-6 to win in a walkover.
Alex Vanhook led all scorers with 12 points for the Suns, while Karson Steele had 11.
Stallings led the Cougars with eight points and added six rebounds. Jack Davis scored six points and led the team on the boards with seven rebounds before fouling out with 3:14 left in the fourth quarter.
Ethan Carter scored five points and Trenton Godby had three. Rylee Shoemaker, Ethan Hayse, Spencer Sharp and Josh Embry all scored two points to complete the scoring.