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Cougars fall to G-Men in season opener

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

It wasn’t the start to the season he wanted, but Cougar basketball Head Coach Tyler Cannoy left the Cougar Den Tuesday evening knowing his program was heading in the right direction.

 

“I was really proud of our guys fight and effort,” Cannoy said. “I thought we really played hard. It was great to get back to playing live games. Graham played really, really well and shot the ball well.”

 

Despite falling by a final score of 77-64, Cannoy said playing tough competition is the only way to improve.

 

“We opened with a very good opponent and it will only help us with our goal of getting better every day as a group,” he said. “We want to play the best so we can elevate ourselves to the best we can be. I felt like we got better today.”

 

Graham started the game hot, taking a quick double-digit lead before the Cougars began working their way back. By the end of the first quarter the G-Men lead was down to 16-15.

 

Graham turned on the defense in the second period, holding the Cougars to just nine points while scoring 15 of their own to take a 31-24 lead into the halftime break.

 

It should be mentioned that before the game there were two very important ceremonies. First, the three Cougar seniors and their families were recognized. Jerzee Johnson, AJ McCloud and Clay Phillips stood at center court with their family members to be recognized.

 

Next up, the Graham High School G-Men presented assistant coach Josh O’Dell with a donation on behalf of the G-Men and the Graham community. The team heard about the tragic house fire last week that destroyed the O’Dell home, destroying the house and all of their possessions.

 

Business picked back up in the second half with Graham outscoring the Cougars 23-14 to lead 54-38 after three quarters. The Cougars kept fighting, outscoring Graham 26-23 in the final period, but the G-Men earned the 77-64 win.

 

JJ Gulley led the Cougars with 20 points. Josh Bourne added 13 points and AJ McCloud chipped in nine. Kyle O’Neal added seven points. Peyton McDaniel and Lane Nester added six points each. Jerzee Johnson scored the final three Cougar points.

 

The G-Men were led by David Graves with 20 points. Xayvion Bradshaw backed him up with 19. Kade Roberts scored 12 and Zach Dales added 11.

 

In junior varsity action the Cougars lost a tough 54-38 decision. The first half was a close one, with Pulaski County leading 13-11 after the first and 26-25 at the half. Graham turned up the tempo in the second half to earn the win.

 

Khalib Horton led the JV Cougars with 12 points. Adjulik Whitaker added 10 points and Tyler Underwood scored eight. Nasir Green and Ayden Akers scored four points each.

 

Graham was led by Connor Roberts with 14 points, Jacob Pruitt with 12 and Bradon Watkins with 11 points.

 

So how did it feel playing in front of a minimal crowd under the COVID-19 restrictions?

 

“It’s different,” Cannoy said. “The whole atmosphere is different. The whole pregame, game planning and everything is different. We have really focused on our guys about how important it is going to be this year to really bring our own energy. The team that really brings their own energy is going to be more successful this year than ever before because there is little to no crowd to feed off of. The momentum and momentum swings have to be internally now.”

 

The Cougars are now scheduled to travel to Floyd County Wednesday, Dec. 30, for a matchup with the Buffalos. JV action will begin at noon, followed by the varsity contest.

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