Walking into the Dog Pound at John Hardin last Friday night, the Cougar varsity came out battered and beaten as the Bulldogs won by 44 points, 90-46.
Grayson County was once again playing without senior Ethan Saltsman, who suffered a leg injury at Allen County. After missing much of the season with a broken arm bone, Saltsman may be lost for the rest of the season with this latest injury.
Having Saltsman would have helped the Cougars, but the Bulldogs were just too much for the Cougars regardless. They came in with a 17-3 record and were ranked among the top teams in the state, and they did little to cause anyone to doubt their status against the Cougars, putting three players into double figures and holding the Cougars to just 11 rebounds all night.
In the opening contest, the JV Cougars cut a 16-point, half-time deficit in half in the third quarter, but got run over in the fourth as the Bulldogs took a 52-31 win.
After John Hardin’s Patrick Anderson hit a three-pointer to open the scoring, Grayson County’s Lane Rackley, playing in place of Saltsman, answered with a lay-up at the 6:28 mark to make it 3-2. That would be as close as the Cougars would be to a lead the rest of the night.
The Bulldogs responded with nine unanswered points to lead 12-2 with 3:30 left in the period. They led by 15 points, 22-7 heading into the second period.
John Hardin then put the game out of reach by opening the second quarter with a 13-0 run to take a 28-point lead, 35-7 with 5:21 left in the first half. Grayson County then outscored the Bulldogs 15-10 the rest of the second period, but still trailed by 23 points, 45-22 at the half.
John Hardin scored seven straight late in the third quarter to push the lead past 30 points, 65-31 at the 2:37 mark. Brandon Price’s lay-in with 1:44 left pushed the lead to 36 points, and the clock began running continuously, courtesy of the new mercy rule installed this season. The Bulldogs led by 38 points, 73-35 as the fourth quarter began.
Cougar coach Caleb Smith inserted his JV players in the fourth quarter, but evidently Bulldog coach Mark Wells didn’t feel a 38-point lead was safe and he left his starters in until more than halfway through the final period, which allowed some of his starters to pad their stats.
Bulldog forward Keon Williams led all scorers with 22 points, including three shots from behind the arc. Price scored 19 points, while wide-body center Daveon Greene had 18.
Sophomore Talon Gary led the Cougars with 14 points and also led with five rebounds. Braxton Williams had nine points while Rackley added seven. Freshman Gage Akridge had six on two made three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Logan Ramsey and Lane Decker both had four points to complete the scoring, and Ramsey led the Cougars with four assists.
The JV Dogs were dominant in the paint against the younger and smaller Cougars. John Hardin raced out to a 14-7 lead at the end of the first period with 12 of those points coming inside by forwards Dimitri Cooper and Kievon Francis.
One of the officials injured himself just before the end of the first quarter and could not continue. There was about a 20-minute delay before a substitute could be found.
The Bulldogs continued to dominate the Cougars in the second quarter, turning them over nine times and turning them into seven points. John Hardin led by 16 points, 27-11 at the half.
Grayson County came out at the start of the second half and took the game at the Bulldogs, opening with a 12-3 run that cut their deficit to seven points, 30-23 with 3:32 left in the period.
John Hardin responded with a 7-2 run to push the lead back to 12 points, 37-25 at the 1:32 mark, but Grayson County scored the final four points of the period and the Cougars had cut their half-time deficit in half, 37-29 as the fourth quarter began.
But it was all Bulldogs in the fourth quarter. They opened on a 15-0 run and held the Cougars to just one Cole Akridge lay-up with 1:20 left in the game.
Francis led the Bulldogs with 17 points, while Cooper had 16.
Akridge led the Cougars with 16 points. Logan Ramsey had five, Dylan Woodcock and Zac Williams had four apiece, and Lane Rackley had two to close out the Cougar scoring.