Top seed is Cougars’ prize for eliminating Black Oak

Top seed is Cougars’ prize for eliminating Black Oak
By RANDY CAVIN
Special to The Messenger
Hillcrest was the opening night winner, twice, Thursday in the Obion County School System Middle School Tournament at Obion County Central High School, the two Cougar teams knocking off Black Oak.
The Hillcrest girls took advantage of an early five-point run in the final frame to win 36-25. Meanwhile, the Hillcrest boys had very little trouble downing an undersized Black Oak squad 45-26.
The prize for winning will be dates with the top seeds on Saturday, the Lady Cougars facing Lake Road at 7 p.m. and the Hillcrest boys meeting South Fulton at 8:15 p.m.
Hillcrest 36, BO 25 (G)
It was nip-and-tuck through the first three periods between the Lady Cougars (3-8) and the Lady Eagles (1-12) before Hillcrest pulled away in the first 45 seconds of the fourth frame.
Courtney Heuck hit the front end of two foul shots to start a 5-0 run and then finished the spurt on a layup with 5:15 to play to give Hillcrest a 24-16 lead.
From that point on, each time Black Oak would score in an attempt to cut into the lead, Hillcrest would have an answer for it.
“We stressed about putting a little more pressure on defense to fix some mistake we were having and we also stressed on getting better shots on offense to try to get things turned around in the fourth quarter,” Hillcrest head coach Travis Johnson said.
The Lady Cougars used a man-to-man defense throughout most of the game, and that created problems for Black Oak as the Lady Eagles had trouble controlling the ball. But, Nellina Wooten managed to thread her way through the man coverage and score a game-high 21 of the Lady Eagles 25 points. Hueck led the Lady Cougars with 19.
“The last couple of days, we really worked on that to get better ball pressure and we did,” Johnson said. “Hopefully it will carry over into Saturday.
Hillcrest outscored Black Oak 17-9 in the fourth period.
“It was tough in that fourth quarter,” Black Oak head coach James Wooten said. “Our starting center did not play because she was sick, so we were pretty thin as far as coming off the bench. That caught up to us in the fourth period.
Hillcrest 45, BO 26 (B)
It was not much of a contest for the Cougars (4-7) as Hillcrest opened up an 11-3 lead at the end of the first period and held a commanding 24-9 advantage by halftime.
Black Oak (0-13) came into the game at a disadvantage not only in size, but also in experience and bench strength. All but one of Black Oak’s eighth-graders quit the team on Wednesday for undisclosed reasons.
Nonetheless, the Eagles still tried to make a game out of it in the third period when Jonathon Davis hit back-to-back 3-pointers from atop the key. But, the Cougars answered with consecutive 3-pointers by Dylan Hale. There were six 3-pointers made in the third period, four by Hillcrest and two by Black Oak.
“We had one eighth-grader, and he is a first-year player, and two seventh-graders,” Wooten said. “The rest are sixth-graders on the team. Those kids went out and worked real hard and we have only had one true day of practice as a group”.
The four 3-pointers in the third period by Hillcrest all but ended the season for Black Oak. By the end of the third, the Cougars had a 42-17 lead.
“That just kind of opened up the game completely,” Johnson said. “I was worried coming in because gym is wide open and the lighting here is a lot different than at ours. I was worried about how well we would shoot. In that third quarter we came out with the lead and I wanted to work on that with our eyes adjusted. We actually did really well. A lot better than I thought we would.
Hillcrest was led in scoring by Hale with a game-best 11 points. Black Oak was led by Blake Jones with nine points. Published in The Messenger 12.16.11

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