The Cougars have had their share of hard luck in the ‘Clash of the Cats’ hardwood series. They hadn’t beaten the Panthers since January 2003 and Russellville was all to ready to add another victory to their belt.
But after letting one region powerhouse off the hook, the Cougars were not going to let another one get away.
In front of a packed house, the Cougars managed to snap the streak against Russellville with a 76-70 victory.
“This one goes out to all the previous Logan County teams that didn’t do it, and this goes for all the fans that sat through many games,” LCHS head coach Harold Tackett said. “This one goes out to them.”
In the first half, the Cougars and Panthers raced up and down the court, exchanging baskets at a frightening pace. When the Panthers would go on a run, the Cougars would answer with one of their own. Neither team could take advantage of the other’s weakness, at least not for long.
Even without their leading scorer Twin Lancaster, the Cougars held their own against the mighty Panthers. Then with inside presence Sajuan Watkins getting into foul trouble the Cougars still didn’t break. The bench that had been a question mark coming into the season rose up to the challenge.
“We had to go to the bench early, we had to play a lot of kids early, it was just a combined effort from the team,” coach Tackett said.
The Panthers tried to assert some control on the game in the second quarter, but the Cougars stubbornly refused to go away. Going into the break the Cougars were down four points, but the Panthers knew that the deficit should have been a lot worse.
“I think what really got us in trouble was the first half, two of their big guns were on the bench in the first half and we’re only up four kind of put us behind the eight ball,” RHS head coach Dennis Pardue said.
In the second half the Cougars came out of the locker room swinging. Russellville held their own, trying to deal with the sudden onslaught that Logan County was presenting, but slowly but surely gave ground. After one quarter of play the Cougars had taken the lead at 51-44 and wouldn’t let it go for the rest of the night.
In the fourth quarter the Cougars increased their lead to as many as 10 points with little less than 4 minutes to go. The Panthers made one final push to close the gap to four points in the final minute of play, but Logan County showed everyone in the building that they had that fire and passion that some may have questioned earlier in the week. Logan County held on and celebrated the 76-70 victory over the cross town Panthers.
“Even though it may have ticked some of us off, it did get us ready and that was one of the key motivators for this game,” LCHS guard Ryan Harper said afterwards.
“They are a good team, take nothing away from them,” coach Pardue said. “They made plays tonight down the stretch and we didn’t.”
Torin Graham led the Cougars in scoring with 22 points. Despite being in early foul trouble, Twin Lancaster grabbed 17 points. Sajuan Watkins collected another double-double with his 13 points and 14 rebounds. Aratan Martin played a big role when Lancaster was on the bench as his 10 points and nine rebounds help keep the Cougars in the game. Despite coughing the ball up 30 times in the game, Logan County shot lights out at a 60 percent clip in the second half that helped seal the game.
“Hard work, and coach gave us a great game plan and we executed it,” LCHS forward Aratin Martin said.
The Panthers were led in scoring by Davis Pardue’s 19 points. Josh Hampton collected 12 points and Jordan Kennedy added 11 points and seven rebounds.
“We’ve been on a streak where this hasn’t happened, and it’s been a good streak, but all good things come to an end,” coach Pardue said. “Taking nothing away from Logan County, they are a good team, but to perform how we performed is a little bit disheartening.”
The Panthers will try and rebound against region foe Greenwood tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Cougars will look to build on this game with a game against Butler County tonight at 7:30 p.m.