Cougars beat RHS by 16 to clinch top seed in district
By Jim Turner

Posted on February 8, 2015 9:26 PM

Using all the weapons at their disposal, including above the rim play by the seniors and much-needed floor play from a freshman, the Logan County Cougars finished regular season district play undefeated Friday by beating visiting Russellville 79-63.

The win was the seventh in the last 10 Clashes for the Cougars since January 6, 2012 after the Panthers had gone 19 games and 9 years without losing to the Cougars.

When Coach Lonnie Mason’s Cougars built a 22-point lead during a third-quarter run, it looked as if the Cougars would win by a bigger margin than their 20-point romp in January. Coach Phil Todd’s Panthers, however, surged in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to six points twice, the last at 69-63 on a pair of free throws by Pedro Bradshaw.

The biggest play of the game for the Cougars ensued, however, when senior post player Taylor Blakemore stole the ball under the Cougars’ goal and laid it in to stop the Panthers’ run. On the other end, fellow senior big man Ben Wright pulled down his 14th defensive rebound and hit two free throws. The Cougars got the ball back but rushed a running shot, giving the Panthers new life. But Russellville’s Jaylin McMurry missed two free throws, senior Tucker Baldwin rebounded and got the ball to a fourth senior, Tahmir Graham, who then fired an assist to Blakemore. Wright hit two more free throws and Baldwin scored to build the lead to 14.

Russellville, in fact, never scored again after Bradshaw’s two free throws with 3:46 remaining.

Graham had a sensational game. After sitting out most of his sophomore and junior years with leg injuries, he seems to have overcome all effects from them. He ran the floor beautifully and hit 9 of 13 field goal attempts and 11 of 15 free throws for 29 points. Graham also added nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Wright and Blakemore each scored 10 points and 3 assists. Wright also totaled 15 rebounds.

The Cougars were having trouble maintaining possession of the ball, however, especially since starting guard Noah Whittinghill wasn’t available because of his health. Junior point guard Garrison Rosser was shooting well, but he tends to put his hand under the ball as he dribbles, and this set of officials didn’t approve of that. He was charged with six turnovers. Seniors Blakemore, Wright, Graham and Kaleb Coursey each made three turnovers. Baldwin was the only one of the veterans who wasn’t turnover prone; he only committed one floor error in 18 minutes of action.

Mason needed to add another ball handler, and turned to freshman Austin Rayno, who had not been a varsity player yet even though he had come to LCHS after a super four-year middle school career.

Rayno responded like an experienced varsity pro. He moved the ball quickly, breaking the Panthers’ relentless press repeatedly and getting the ball to teammates with sharp passes. When he came into the game in the first half, new Panther post player Kevin Coffer had just scored his first RHS varsity basket on a rebound to cut the Cougars lead to 26-23. Rayno immediately drew CoCo Darden’s third foul and hit two free throws. Shortly afterwards he got the ball to Graham on an assist for a 31-24 Logan lead.

After Graham scored on a steal, Micah Naylor got the Panthers back on the scoreboard with a nifty spin move, but the Cougars built their halftime lead to 38-27 when Pedro Garcia hit a 3-pointer on an assist from Rosser. Garcia hit a pair of treys and Coursey one for the winners.

After Darden’s goal made the Cougars’ lead 46-33, Graham and Blakemore took over the scoring and Logan built a 55-33 lead before Bradshaw broke the string on an assist by Darden.

Russellville made a run. Paul Jones hit a 3-pointer for RHS. Rosser responded by hitting his fourth running floater, but Bradshaw’s 3-point play on Wright’s third foul cut the Logan lead to 61-48 as the fourth quarter began.

Rayno’s two free throws kept the Logan margin at 13, but Bradshaw hit two shots and Jaylin McMurry one while Jason Mitchell got a free throw to fall. Suddenly the margin was only six, but the Cougars were up to the challenge.

For Russellville, Bradshaw hit 8 of 10 shots from the field and all three of his free throws on the way to 19 points and 5 rebounds. The rest of the team hit only 15 of 61 field goal attempts and 7 of 20 free throws. Lee McMurry finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Logan amassed a 44-29 rebound margin.

The Cougars (16-6) will play host Todd Central in the 13th District Tournament. Second-seeded Russellville (11-10) Franklin-Simpson in a rematch of last year’s finals, which the Panthers won. This was the Panthers’ second loss in 2015, the only coming to Logan seven games ago.

Score by Quarters: 1) LCHS 17-17, 2) 38-37, 3) 61-48, Final) Logan County 79, Russellville 63

RHS (63) Pedro Bradshaw 19, Lee McMurry 17, Jaylin McMurry 7, Kevin Coffer 5, CoCo Darden 4, Micah Naylor 4, Paul Jones 4, Jason Mitchell 1, Ricky Bellamy 2, Tremon Morris, M.J. Jones

LCHS (79) Tahmir Graham 29, Ben Wright 10, Taylor Blakemore 10, Garrison Rosser 8, Jose Garcia 7, Austin Rayno 6, Tucker Baldwin 4, Kaleb Coursey 3, Dalton Furlow 2, Lorenzo Garcia

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