Suffering through some cold shooting, the Grayson County Cougars fell 53-49 to the surging Butler County Bears in the championship game of the 12th District Tournament last Friday evening at Cougar Gym.
Butler County came into the tournament as the fourth seed, but played spectacularly in their two game, first defeating number-one seed Edmonson County on Tuesday, then dispatching the number-two seeded Cougars on Friday.
Only four Bears reached the scoring column, but each of them scored in double figures. Baylee Anderson, who missed most of the final regular season game with the Cougars and scored just four points, led all scorers on Friday with 18 points, including four three-point shots. Blake Graham scored 15 points and Will Moore and Rex Henderson scored 10 each.
The Cougars also put four players into double figures, but it was not enough to offset the aggressive play of the Bears, who took the lead early in the third quarter and held it the rest of the way.
The Cougars struggled through a cold shooting night, finishing by hitting just 23-of-61 from the field, 37 percent. They went to the free throw line just four times on the night and managed to hit just one. The Bears were 7-of-10 from the charity stripe.
The score was tied twice in the early going of the first period. Anderson’s first three of the night gave the Bears a five point lead, 13-8 with 1:44 left in the period and they took that lead into the second quarter.
When Moore opened the second period with a lay-up at the 7:04 mark, the Bears led by seven points, 15-8.
Tanner Tyra’s short jumper at the 4:36 mark brought the Cougars back to within three of the lead, 17-14, but the Bears hit back-to-back baskets to go up again by seven, 21-14 with 3:10 left in the first half.
Grayson County then scored the last seven points of the half, including Bailey Logsdon’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, to tie the score 21-21 at the half.
Grayson County began the second half with a 6-2 run, capped off by a Trey Goff three-pointer, to take their largest lead of the night, 27-23 at the 6:43 mark.
The Bears responded with a 9-2 run that put them ahead by three, 32-29 at the 4:37 mark. They would never trail again.
Goff’s lay-up with 2:55 remaining tied the score 35-35, but the Bears scored eight unanswered points, including two Anderson threes, to hold their largest lead of the evening, 43-35 with 16 seconds left. Tyra scored on a buzzer-beating lay-up to cut the Cougar deficit to six points, 43-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
Grayson County opened the scoring in the final period with six unanswered points to tie things once again, 43-43 with 6:33 left to play.
The Bears responded with four straight to lead 47-43 at the 4:36 mark, only to see the Cougars tie it again 47-47 with 2:47 left following baskets by Goff and Conner Schultz
The Bears then began working the clock, looking for a lay-up or a wide-open shot, calling a timeout with 1:54 left to talk about it.
Henderson put the Bears on top again, 49-47 with a 10-footer with 1:22 left in the game. The Cougars followed by turning the ball over and fouling with 53.9 seconds left to play, sending Henderson to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. Henderson hit both shots to put the Bears up by four, 51-47.
The Cougars missed a shot at their end, but Logsdon grabbed the rebound and later scored with 26 seconds left to make it a two-point game, 51-49.
The Cougars sent Anderson to the line in the bonus with 14.9 seconds left and he buried both shots to make it 53-49. Grayson County them missed its final shot and committed a foul with 5,8 seconds left. Austin Nave missed both shots, but it didn’t matter as the Bears had the game in hand.
Schultz led the Cougars with 13 points and he added two rebounds and two steals. Logsdon finished with 11 points and he shared the rebounding lead with Cole Akridge with eight each. Akridge scored 10 points and also led the team with four assists.
Tyra was the fourth Cougar in double figures, also finishing with 10 points. Goff completed the Cougar scoring with five points and he added three rebounds and two steals.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.