After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first period, the Cougar varsity roared back to beat Muhlenberg County in Greenville 50-47 last Friday night.
It was the exact opposite of the outcome in the earlier JV game in which the Cougars raced out to a 17-point lead in the second period, only to see the Mustangs come back in the second half to take a 48-44 win.
The Mustangs scored the first seven points of the game before senior Cole Akridge scored on a lay-up to get the Cougars on the board. Akridge was fouled on the play and his free throw made it 7-3 at the 5:41 mark.
Akridge later hit a three-pointer to pull the Cougars to within three of the lead, 9-6 with 5:01 left, but the Mustangs followed by scoring 11 unanswered points to take a 14-point advantage, 20-6 with 1:14 left in the period. Grayson County trailed by 10 points, 20-10 heading into the second quarter.
Grayson County opened the second period with four straight to cut the lead to six points before Austin Sailing scored for the Mustangs to make it 22-14 with 6:04 left in the first half.
Junior Trey Goff then hit the first of six three-pointers on the night to cut it to a five-point game, 22-17. Goff later hit another three that cut the Mustang lead to just two points, 26-24 with 2:00 left to play.
Muhlenberg’s Noah McElwaine answered with a three of his own with 56 seconds left that pushed the lead back up to five points, 29-24, but Goff hit his third three of the quarter with three seconds left that brought the Cougars to within two points of the lead at the half, 29-27.
Akridge scored on a lay-in at 7:40 of the third period to tie the score at 29-29 before Bailey Logsdon hit a 10-footer at the 6:10 mark to put the Cougars in front for the first time on the night, 31-29.
The Mustangs responded with seven unanswered points to go back up by five, 36-31 with 4:48 left in the period, but Goff buried back-to-back threes to put the Cougars in front 37-36 with 4:01 remaining.
Goff’s third three of the period put the Cougars in front by four points, 42-38, but Muhlenberg’s Kobe Drake hit a three of his own at the 1:54 mark to make it a one-point game, 42-41 as play moved to the fourth quarter.
McElwaine hit a pair of bonus free throws with 2:59 left to play to put the Mustangs on top 45-44, but Akridge hit a 10-foot, pull-up jumper with 2:23 remaining that gave the Cougars a 46-45 lead, one they would never give back.
Conner Schultz scored off a beautiful assist from Logsdon with 1:02 left to make it 48-45. After a Mustang miss, Akridge went to the line in the bonus with the chance to ice the game with 31 seconds left, but missed the front end, keeping the Mustangs alive.
McElwaine scored again with 27 seconds left to cut it to a one-point game again, 48-47 and the Mustangs called a timeout. Back on the floor, Logsdon was fouled with 16 seconds to play, but missed the front end of the bonus, giving the Mustangs the chance to win on a last-second shot.
But Schultz came up with a huge steal, diving on the floor to take the ball from a Mustang ball-handler and getting it to Akridge, who was fouled with 4.7 ticks left on the clock. This time Akridge was perfect on both free throws to make it 50-47. The Mustangs then missed a desperation heave at the buzzer, giving the Cougars the win.
McElwaine led the Mustangs with 17 points and Drake added 13.
Akridge led all scorers with 22 points and he added four rebounds and two assists. Goff finished with 20 points and added three boards. Schultz had just four points, but led the team with six rebounds and added two assists and three steals.
Logsdon and Gage Akridge both scored two points, with Logsdon adding five rebounds and four assists and Akridge gathering four rebounds and two assists.
With sophomore Jack Davis scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds, the Cougars raced out to a 12-point lead, 17-5 after the first period of play.
Davis then hit a 10-footer opening the second quarter and Spencer Sharp followed a few seconds later with a three-pointer, and suddenly the Cougars were up by 17 points, 22-5 at the 5:10 mark.
Things began to turn around at that point, with the Mustangs closing out the period on a 10-5 run that cut the lead to 12 points, 27-15 at the half.
The Cougars could not match their first-half intensity in the third quarter, allowing the Mustangs to cut the lead still further, to just six points, 36-30, heading into the fourth period.
A three-pointer by Damon Johnson with 2:02 left in the game brought the Mustangs to within a point of the lead, 44-43, and when the Cougars turned the ball over on their next possession, Tyler Vincent scored to give Muhlenberg its first lead of the night, 45-44, with 1:08 remaining.
The Cougars turned the ball over on their next three possessions and the Mustangs were able to hit 3-of-4 at the foul line to clinch the game.
Johnson led the Mustangs with 13 points.
Sharp finished with three three-pointers and led all scorers in the game with 17 points. Davis wound up with 14 points and just missed a double-double pulling down nine rebounds. Rylee Shoemaker scored six points, Beau Dennis had four, and Josh Embry completed the scoring with three points.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.