Cougars outlast LCHS GatorsBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
It took two overtimes but the Newton County Cougars eventually pulled away with a 62-58 win over Leake Central in East Central Community College’s Clash of the Classes on Saturday.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 12-4 on the season while Leake Central falls to 11-9.
It was a good win for the Cougars after suffering a 29-point loss on Friday night to rival West Lauderdale.
“It was a good win for us,” Harber said. “We needed that to get the bad taste out of our mouth after losing like we did to West Lauderdale. You just don’t ever know how kids are going to respond on a Saturday thing like this.”
But it was anything for easy for the Cougars. After leading 14-9 with 2:47 left in the first, Leake Central scored nine straight points and led 18-14 at the end of the first. Leake Central was able to maintain that lead as each team scored 11 points in the second period as the Gators took a 29-25 lead into the half.
After Newton County pulled within three at 31-28 with 4:09 left in the third, the Gators went on a 7-1 run and led 38-29 with 1:52 left in the third. That’s when Harber had seen enough and went to his half-court trap. From there, Newton County scored 12 straight points with 3-pointers from Yunish Billy and Jaylin Nicholson to give the Cougars a 41-38 lead with 5:43 left to play.
“We had two big district games during the week and were kind of flat,” Harber said. “We were trying to get going and I was hoping the trap would put some life into us. We were able to create some turnover and that got us going. But honestly, the game should have never went into overtime. We missed eight free throws in a row and really should have won that game in regulation.”
The Cougars led by three points two different times in the last three minutes but was unable to get a bucket in the last minute to send the game into overtime.
After each team scored four points in the first overtime period, Newton County started to pull away. Nicholson hit a 3-pointer with 1:45 left to tie the score at 54-54 and then Chris Mulford put the Cougars ahead with a putback at the 1:14 mark. From there, the Cougars hit 6-of-8 free throws to take the win.
Nicholson, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, led all scorers with 24 points while Yunish Billy added 15 points. Peyton Reeves had nine points and Mulford added six.
Newton County will host Northeast Lauderdale on Tuesday and travel to Quitman on Friday
W. Lauderdale 66, County 37
The rival Knights jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the first period and raced to a 29-point win.
After the 17-3 first period, West continued to pour it on as they outscored County 24-12 in the second to take a 41-15 lead at the half.
“West Lauderdale played really well and we just didn’t show up,” Harber said. “We didn’t play with a lot of effort. We didn’t rebound, we didn’t score and we didn’t pass. They just whipped our butt and that brought us down to earth.”
Chris Mulford led County with nine points while Jaylin Nicholson added seven points.
County 75, Mendenhall 70
The Cougars jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first period but had to come back in the fourth to take a big division 5-4A win on Tuesday.
County led 17-10 at the end of the first and 35-27 at the half. County outscored Mendenhall 17-16 in the third to lead 52-43. Mendenhall outscored County 27-22 in the fourth and tied the game at one point before County pulled away with the win.
“That was a big win for us,” Harber said. “We led for most of the game. We got up about 10 and let them tie the game and send it into overtime. Then we got ahead in overtime and held them off. It was a big win and one of the better games we have played this year.”
Chris Mulford led the Cougars with 24 points while Jaylin Nicholson had 19 points. Peyton Reeves and Jarius Huddleston each had 11 points while Yunish Billy added nine points.