Cougars drop 3 OT thriller in Clash
By Jim Turner


Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM



The Logan County Cougars came up just short in a game destined to be remembered for years to come Friday night. Coach Lonnie Mason’s team was tantalizingly close to beating University Heights Academy in regulation before losing 94-93 in triple overtime of the First Southern National Bank Christmas Classic.

The Cougars led by six points on their home floor with 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter on Ben Wright’s two free throws. That was crucial, since it was obvious most of the game that if Logan County would lose this game, it would be because of missed free throws and turnovers. Although foul shooting proved not to be a serious problem in overtime, floor errors doomed the Cougars at the end of regulation and into the three OTs.

The Blazers’ Lomantas Johnson scored five straight points as the result of Cougar turnovers and a missed layup. After more shaky ball handling by the home team, Cougar sophomore center Taylor Blakemore hit a pair of free throws to make the lead 62-59 with 27 seconds left. Tahmir Graham got a long rebound on a UHA shot and passed toward a snowbirding Landon Stratton under his own goal. But UHA managed to foul Graham as he released the ball. Instead of getting the easy bucket, the Cougars had to rely on the foul line to build their margin. Graham missed the first foul shot but hit the second to make it 63-59 with 12.4 seconds.

In an attempt to avoid fouling, the Coach Lonnie Mason's Cougars let Blazer Dashjon Brown go in for an uncontested layup with 6.7 seconds. The lead was two. UHA pressed, Logan didn’t call time out, and Tahmir Graham decided to take off running toward midfield, turning the ball over again. The Blazers’ then scored at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

Make that the first overtime.

The overtimes were Torin Graham Time. The senior point guard, the only returning starter from last year’s outstanding Cougar squad, scored 20 of his game-high 36 points in the 12 extra minutes. He got off to a bad start by missing his first four free throws, but he hit 9 of his next 10. Most of the Cougars’ offense involved setting him up for isolation plays. He would take his man to the basket, either taking shots or drawing fouls.

Logan was again in good position to win when Wright scored on a halfcourt inbounds assist from Stratton before Torin Graham drew a charge. But Tahmir Graham immediately tunred the ball over. Torin missed a pair of free throws, and Blakemore became the first of three Cougars to foul out. Logan is not the same team without Blakemore, since the Cougars no longer have a low post presence without him. UHA scored to tie the score. Logan played for one shot, but Stratton’s long-range attempt bounced high into the supports and the second OT ensued.

Logan went up by four but made two straight turnovers, and the Blazers took their first lead since 36-35 with 5:32 remaining in the third period. Four more lead changes and two ties came before the second extra period ended. Logan’s last lead of the game came at 80-79 with 2:59 remaining in the middle extra period. The tie creating the third overtime was a result of Torin Graham’s two free throws with 11.1 seconds.

University Heights went up by four early in the final period, and Logan caught up with 1:40. But the four-point lead returned. Tahmir Graham and J.R. Morrow joined Blakemore in fouling out. Torin Graham cut the lead to two, and Logan stole the inbounds pass. Just as it appeared Clint Knight would score the tying basket, the official under the basket ruled he had already awarded UHA a timeout. Logan couldn’t recover from that. Austin Byrum and Darian McCombs each hit two free throws for UHA. Graham, who scored all 11 of the Cougars’ points in the third OT, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the team needed a four-pointer.

Logan was plagued by 21 turnovers and hit just 27 of 41 free throws. UHA made only 8 turnovers and connected on 32 of 43 foul shots. Rebounding was virtually even, but Logan stayed in the game by UHA missing 23 of 31 three-point shots. Logan resisted the temptation to fire frequently from long range, going 6 of 11 with Wright hitting both of his three-point attempts, Torin Graham going 2 of 3 and Stratton 2 of 4.

In support of Graham’s 36 points, Wright scored 24, Tahmir Graham 13 and Stratton 10. Torin Graham had 15 rebounds, Wright 10 and Blakemore 8. Blakemore had 5 assists, Torin Graham 4 and Morrow 2. Torin Graham played all 44 minutes, Wright 41, Stratton 36, Tahmir Graham 35 and Blakemore 32.

Score by quarters: 1) UHA 21-18, 2) LCHS 30-28, 3) LCHS 52-48, 4) 63-63, 1st OT) 69-69, 2nd OT) 82-82 Final) University Heights Academy 94, Logan County 93

UHA (94) Lomontas Johnson 30, Dashjon Brown 17, LeDonald Gray 16, Ryan P’Pool 12, Austin Byrum 11, Darian McCombs 3, Darius Mumford 3, Thomas Folz 2, Bryant Hamby

LCHS (93) Torin Graham 36, Ben Wright 23, Tahmir Graham 13, Landon Stratton 10, J.R. Morrow 6, Taylor Blakemore 4, Tucker Baldwin, Clint Knight, Ryan Basham

 

The LoJo

The Cougars’ opening game of the tournament Thursday went down to the wire with LCHS winning 57-54 over Caldwell County. Wright, who had 17 points, hit all three of his fourth quarter shots for 7 points. Fellow sophomore Tahmir Graham,who scored 14, hit a twisting shot to put his team up by three, and a third tenth grader, Blakemore, got the final rebound, Torin Graham scored 18.




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