NCHS wears down UHSBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
Last year, the Newton County Cougars finished just one game shy of making the state tournament in Jackson, losing to Florence in the second round.
Coach Steve Harber blames the loss on a lack of depth as three Cougars fouled out in that game. The veteran coach said he isn’t about to let that happen again.
The Cougars used a balanced scoring attack and a deep bench to take a 65-54 win over visiting Union on Friday night.
The Cougars improved to 3-0 with the win, leaving Harber pleased after the game.
“We are 3-0 and one good thing is a lot of people got to play some quality minutes,” Harber said. “We played eight or nine guys. That’s the thing, we have to build some depth. It hurt me last year in the state tournament and I’m not going to let that happen again. We have eight seniors and they know each other really well.”
After wins over Morton and Forest, the Cougars had a good challenge from the Yellowjackets.
“Every time that we play them, it doesn’t matter, they are going to be scrappy,” Harber said. “I thought we played well but Union hung in there and that kid got hot out there and kept them in the game. Overall, I was pleased. We made some mental mistakes and missed some easy buckets, dropped the ball a few times. But that’s going to happen early in the year. I think we have gotten better each game and got a chance to play a lot of people tonight.”
Union coach Josh Luckett said he felt like his team could have competed better if they had played with equal intensity.
“In the first half, we acted like we hadn’t played any basketball,” Luckett said. “We turned it over too much, gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and dug ourselves in a hole. In the second half, we played with more intensity. If we could have played two halves with that same intensity, I think we would have been all right. We dug ourselves in a big hole and just had a hard time getting out of it.”
Newton County built an 18-13 lead in the first period and led 25-21 with 1:12 left in the first half before scoring the last 11 points of the half to take a 36-21 lead at the half.
In the third period, County outscored Union 12-11 and led 48-33 at the end of the period. After scoring the first five of the fourth to take a 53-33 lead, Union’s P.J. Gage hit three 3-pointers and pulled Union within 10 points but the Cougars pulled away for the 11-point win.
Chris Mulford led County with 22 points while Jalin Nicholson and Yunish Billy each had 15 points apiece. Gage led Union with 22 points while Casey Morris had 12 points and J.T. Vance chipped in nine points.
County girls 52, Union 44
Newton County broke open a close game in the last three minutes with eight straight points to grab their first win of the season.
Union led 8-7 after the first period and led 16-15 midway through the second period before Newton County scored the last five points of the half to take a 20-16 lead at the half.
Newton County built a 10-point lead in the third period with back-to-back buckets by Chelsea Giles with 1:52 left in the third to make the score 34-24.
But Union battled back in the fourth period behind Parker Breland and tied the score at 42-42 with 3:12 left in the game on a pair of free throws by Ansley Rigby.
But Newton County’s Tiffany Wilson scored eight of 10 points down the stretch for Newton County as the Lady Cougars grabbed their first win of the season.
Tiffany Wilson led all scorers with 23 points while Shantasia John had 11 points and Giles chipped in eight points.
Breland led Union with 19 points while Mackenzie Dolan had eight points.
Union boys 88, Enterprise 21
The Yellowjackets scored at will as they hammered homestanding Enterprise on Tuesday night.
Union outscored Enterprise 21-7 in the first and 27-1 in the second to take a 48-8 lead at the half. The Jackets continued to add to its lead, outscoring the Bulldogs 20-9 in the third and 20-4 in the fourth.
P.J. Gage led Union with 17 points while J.T. Vance added 16 points. Casey Morris and Jay Norris each had 11 points apiece while Micheal McDonald added eight points.
Enterprise girls 50, Union 47
Enterprise used a big second period and held off the Lady Jackets to take a three-point win.
Union led 18-15 at the end of the first but Enterprise outscored the Lady Jackets 14-5 in the second to take a 29-23 lead at the half. Enterprise extended the lead in the third, outscoring Union 13-11 to lead 42-34.
Ansley Rigby led Union with 15 points while Parker Breland and Mackenzie Dolan each had 13 points.
County boys 61, Forest 50
The Cougars used a balanced scoring attack and took an 11-point win on Tuesday night.
County led 18-8 at the end of the first period and 34-25 at the half. Forest tightened the game in the third, outscoring County 13-5 to make the score 39-38. But County pulled away in the fourth, outscoring Forest 22-12 in the fourth to take the win.
Jalin Nicholson led County with 20 points while Yunish Billy had 13 points. Jorelle Taylor had 11 points while Chris Mulford added nine points.
Forest girls 54, County 49
The Lady Cougars dropped their second game of the season, falling to Forest on Tuesday.
County led 14-9 at the end of the first but Forest outscored the Lady Cougars 11-6 in the second period to tie the game at 20 apiece. Forest pulled away in the second half as they outscored County 18-16 in the third and 16-13 in the fourth.
Sharandon Isom led a balanced scoring attack with 11 points while Tiffany Wilson had 10 points. Keasja Wansley, Chelsea Giles and Alana McMullan each had 10 points apiece.