SWT Sports Writer
The Pulaski County Cougars hosted the Patrick Henry Patriots Tuesday evening and lost their home opener 61-45.
It was again a tale of not handling pressure and too many turnovers by the Cougars. The first half saw the two teams battle back and forth, as the Patriots took a 27-26 lead into halftime.
The second half saw the Patriots go to more of a scramble defense, putting pressure on the Cougars and they didn’t handle it well at all. A one point deficit quickly became a 13 point deficit, 47-34, as the Cougars committed five consecutive turnovers. By the time time the third quarter was over the home standing Cougars found themselves down 47-36.
Tyus Esworthy, the Patriots coaches’ son, scored 11 points in the period. In doing that, he outscored the entire Cougar team, whom only scored 10 the whole quarter. Esworthy finished with 15 points . Two other Patriots hit double figures as well, with Christian Kirchman tallying 13 and Kendrick Tucker adding 12 points.
The leading scorer for the Cougars and the game was Cam Merchant with 18 points. Lonnie Mattox was the other Cougar in double digits with 10 points.
“They made an adjustment after the first half and we didn’t handle it well,” said Cougar Coach Mark Hanks. “The pressure defense once again tonight cost us.”
Pulaski County had 10 turnovers in the first half but committed that many in the first five minutes of the decisive third quarter. They finished with 24 of those pastries in the ballgame. That’s 58 turnovers in the last two games for the Cougars. “We have to get five kids to handle the ball,” said Coach Hanks
With the win, the Patriots improved to 4-2. The loss saw the Cougars record fall to 1-3.
The junior varsity saw the Patriots beat the Cougars 48-44 in a see-saw battle.
Patrick Henry was lead in scoring by Demonte Belcher with 13 points and Josh Augustin with eight. The Cougars (2-2) got 12 points from Bryant Grubb, 11 points from Elliott Brewster, and nine by Brad Church. Hunter Thomas had five points, Kevin Smith tossed in three, and Evan Austin and Barron Blevins had two points each.
The Cougars will battle Hidden Valley Thursday and Radford Friday, both at the Cougar Den. Junior varsity action begins at 5:30, with the varsity game around 7 p.m. both nights.