The middle school boys kicked off their season Thursday night with a pair of scrimmage-game win over the visiting St. Romuald Rebels.
In the opening contest, the seventh-grade Cougars built a 13-point lead after three quarters, then had to hold off a strong Rebel rally in the fourth quarter to take a three-point win, 34-31.
In the eighth-grade game, the Cougars held the visitors to just six second-half points to turn a close game, 22-19 at the half, into a 44-25 runaway.
The format for both scrimmage games was to erase the score at the end of each period, but for purposes of clarity, we have compiled the cumulative scores.
The lead changed hands four times in the first period before the Cougars got back-to-back baskets from Bryson Lowe and Jackson Parker to go ahead by three points, 9-6 with 1:20 left in the first period.
The Rebels’ Kollin Bland closed out the first period scoring with a lay-up to make it 9-8 heading into the second period.
The second period stayed close, with four more lead changes, but Rylee Shoemaker’s three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Cougars a two-point lead, 18-16 at the half.
Grayson County then opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to give them a 10-point lead, 26-16 with 2:00 remaining in the period.
Bland hit a free throw with 1:48 remaining to stop the Cougar run, but the Cougars scored the final four points of the period, including another Shoemaker buzzer-beater, and led by 13 points, 30-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Gr4ayson County still led by 11 points, 34-23 with 2:37 left, but would not score again. The Rebels reeled off the final eight points of the game to pull back to within three points of the lead, 34-31 with 25 seconds left, but the Cougars were able to hold them off.
Shoemaker led the Cougars with nine points. Parker had seven points and added three steals. Ethan Hayes scored five points and added five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lowe and Jack Davis both scored four points, and Davis led the team on the boards with seven rebounds.
Ethan Carter scored three points and pulled down six rebounds, while Josh Embry scored two to complete the Cougar scoring.
Nine of the 13 players who dressed for the Cougars reached the scoring column, led by Conner Schultz, who scored a game-high 19 points.
Schultz scored seven of his points in the first period as the Cougars raced out to an 8-2 lead, but a pair of Rebels free throws and a three-pointer from Grayson Sosh made it a one-point game, 8-7 at the end of the period.
The Cougars opened the second quarter with three unanswered baskets to take a seven-point lead, 14-7, but the Rebels fought back. A Sosh 15-footer with 2:46 left tied the score at 16-16, but the Cougars closed out the period by outscoring the visitors 6-3 to lead by three, 22-19 at the half.
It was all Cougars in the third quarter. They opened the period with six straight to make it 28-19 with 2:07 left. After one-of-two free throws by the Rebels’ Jacob Haycraft, the Cougars closed out the period with six more points and led by 11, 31-20 as the fourth quarter began.
The Cougars then decided things in the fourth quarter, scoring the first nine points of the period to go up by 20 points, 40-20 with 3:20 remaining to be played.
In addition to his 19 points, Schultz added three rebounds, two assists and a game-high eight steals on the night. Dayton Blair scored six points, while Trey Goff and Dustin Woosley had four apiece. Goff led the team on the boards with six rebounds and added four assists and four steals.
Garrett Dennison scored three points, and four players, Beau Dennis, Hunter Young, Bryce Horn and Austin Basham had two each to complete the Cougar scoring.