It has become a long and storied tradition for the Cougars when they venture into the 5th Region for basketball games that they come away feeling abused.
It happened again Monday night at Elizabethtown when the Cougars got hammered by the Panthers 77-35.
The JV squad also suffered a beatdown, 58-45. The final score did not indicate how dominant the Panthers were in that game as the Cougars scored the last 10 points of the game.
It became obvious very early that the 5th Region officials were not going to let the Cougars compete on this night. Less than two minutes into the game, senior Ethan Saltsman picked up his second foul and was relegated to watching the game from the bench.
Logan Ramsey beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter with a three-pointer that brought the Cougars to within two points, 16-14 as the second quarter began.
That would be as close as the Cougars would be all night. With the game getting out of hand in the second period, Saltsman was put back into the game only to pick up his third, very cheap foul at the 4:45 mark. Once again he went to the bench.
At that point, the Panthers had scored 11 straight to lead by 13, 27-14. The run would continue until under a minute to play, when Dustin Crain hit a pair of free throws to stop a 20-0 Panther run. Crain’s charity tosses made it a 20-point contest, 36-16.
Rance Whobrey hit a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to cut the deficit to 18 points, 38-20, but E’town’s Josh Williams beat the buzzer with a 15-footer and the Panthers had doubled up on the Cougars, 40-20 at the break.
Saltsman returned in the third quarter and began making some headway against the Panthers. He hit a 10-foot pull-up jumper in the lane to make it 46-25 at the 4:02 mark, but E’town’s Ja’Von Cotton hit back-to-back threes to push the lead to 27 points, 52-25.
Saltsman scored again on a 10-foot runner along the baseline to make it 52-27 with 3:00 remaining, but seconds later he was hit with his fourth foul, ending his effectiveness for the night. He then fouled out with 23 seconds remaining in the period and E’town led by 29 points, 60-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
When the Panthers went up by 35 points with just under six minutes to play in the game, the clock began running continuously, mercifully bringing the game to a swifter conclusion.
The Panthers put three players into double figures, led by Zane Najdawi’s 15 points. Cotton and Nic McDonald scored 14 each.
Despite playing just a handful of minutes, Saltsman led the Cougars with nine points and added four rebounds. Ramsey finished with seven points, while Gary and Whobrey had five apiece.
Four Cougars, Crain, Lane Rackley, Colton Williams and Cole Akridge had two points each, and Braxton Williams closed out the scoring with one.
This game was close and exciting until about midway through the second quarter, when the Panthers began running away with things.
Cole Akridge hit a three-pointer with eight seconds left in the first period that tied the score 8-8, but E’town’s Guy Williams hit a three of his own to give the Panthers an 11-8 lead heading into the second period. Williams finished the night with a game-high 19 points, 15 of which came on five three-pointers.
The Cougars kept fighting and stayed in the game. Two Tanner Tyra free throws at the 3:41 mark put the Cougars ahead by three points, 18-15. E’town responded with an 8-0 run to go up by five, 23-18 with 2:33 left in the period, and would never trail again.
Lane Rackley stopped the run with a basket at 2:42, but the Panthers closed out the half with a 14-5 run to lead by 12 points, 37-25 at the half.
The Panthers put the game out of reach at the start of the third quarter, opening with a 10-2 run that put them up by 20 points, 47-27 at the 3:30 mark. They led by 19, 49-30 at the start of the fourth quarter.
A Troy Johnson lay-up with 3:10 left to play gave the Panthers their largest lead of the night, 58-35, but the Cougars closed out the game with 10 straight to make the final margin 13 points.
Akridge led the Cougars with 11 points, while Rackley had nine. Tyra and Ramsey had eight points each, and Colton Williams had three.