Cougars advance after win over JM

Stephanie King

In the evening session of day one, the Southwestern Randolph Cougars opened tournament play against the Jordan-Matthews Jets. Southwestern Randolph was 5-5 on the season coming into the tournament while Jordan-Matthews was 4-5 on the season. The Cougars were looking to advance to their first tournament semifinal since 2017, while the Jets were hoping to make their first semifinal appearance since 2014.

Ethan Smith opened the game with a two-point jumper to give the Cougars the early lead. Camden Fuquay answered on the other end to tie the game at two-all. From there, the Cougars went on a 6-0 for an 8-4 lead before the Jets called a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Jets scored to cut the lead to four, but the Cougars answered right back. Southwestern Randolph used an 8-0 run including four points from Smith to take a 16-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Cougars continued to expand on their lead as Luke Dalke muscled his way in for any easy bucket down low. The Jets hit the first three of the night when Jayden Davis drilled one from the right corner. Mason Cross picked up his first points of the night for the Cougars to give them a 20-7 lead before Chandler Matthews scored for the Jets. After a bucket from Chris Hardin, the Jets went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to eight. Jordan Reynolds scored to extend the lead back to ten for the Cougars. The Jets picked up another bucket and the Cougars knocked down a pair at the line to end the quarter. At the half, Southwestern Randolph led Jordan-Matthews 26-16.

Southwestern Randolph came out strong in the third quarter to maintain their lead. Smith opened the quarter with a three and after a pair of free throws from the Jets he knocked down two more to give the Cougars a 35-18 lead. Jacquez Thompson cut the lead to fifteen with a bucket down low before Smith went two for two at the line for the Cougars. The Jets ten went on an 8-0 run that included back to back three-point plays from Fuquay to trim the lead to nine. Hardin scored on a drive, but a three from Davis cut the lead down to eight for the Jets. The Cougars outscored the Jets 4-2 down the stretch for a 43-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Jordan-Matthews got the lead back down to eight at the start of the fourth quarter but Dalke scored for the Cougars to extend the lead out to ten. Fuquay completed the three-point play to cut the lead to seven before the Cougars scored four straight points for an eleven-point lead. The Jets would not go away as Lanice Hedgepeth scored back to back buckets to get the lead down to seven once again. Dalke pushed the lead to nine for the Cougars’ last field goal of the game. The Jets cut the lead to eight on a free-throw, but the Cougars’ defense kept them at bay. Southwestern Randolph went six of eight at the line to close out the game and pick up a 57-45 win. The Cougars will face either Asheboro or Wheatmore in the second semifinal on Saturday at 7:30 PM.

Leading the way for the Cougars was Ethan Smith with 20 points. Luke Dalke finished with 16 points, while Chris Hardin added nine, Parker LaPlant chipped in with seven. For the Jets, Lanice Hedgepeth led the 18 points. Camden Fuquay added 15 points for Jordan-Matthews.

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