Cat Clash #3 begins with questions and possibilities
By Jim Turner

Posted on March 1, 2024 4:15 PM


A couple of questions a few hours before tipoff of the most important Clash of the Cats in nine years.

^Will the third time be the charm for the Russellville Panthers?

^How much money could you have made betting that both the Panthers and the Logan County Cougars would be playing for a district championship tonight?

The last time the two boys teams from the Land of Logan met in the 13th District finals was Feb. 27, 2015. Coach Lonnie Mason’s Cougars edged Coach Phil Todd‘s Panthers 64-63 at Todd Central. Ben Wright, Tahmir Graham, Taylor Blakemore and Tucker Baldwin were among the Cougar senior standouts, and freshman Austin Rayno had burst on to the scene. Russellville Coach Phil Todd depended on seniors Coco Darden and Lee McMurry along with sophomore sensation Pedro Bradshaw.

Since then, Logan won two straight district titles under Coach John Tinsley and Todd’s Panthers went to the 2017 regional championship game, but this will be these teams’ first trip to region the same year since that 2015 classic.

Going into the district tournament this week, people who have paid attention to the regular season knew that any of the four teams could win a district game, but no one had been able to get over the hump against Franklin, even though some games had been close for much of the action. In fact, F-S had more district wins than the Panthers had total wins. And even though the Cougars had split games with Todd and Logan was the number two seed, Todd’s win over LCHS late in the season was pretty impressive.

Yet both local teams not only beat the odds and the competition, but they did so with identical 59-54 decisions.

Even though the Panthers’ only senior, leading scorer on the season Eli McMurry, scored only 7 points, junior Too Two McKeage and sophomore Noah Stovall had exceptional games, scoring 21 and 14 points, respectively. McKeage had 9 rebounds and Stovall 8.

The biggest factor for the Panthers may have been their free throw shooting. The team went 21 of 27 at the line with Stovall hitting 10 of 13, JeriusColeman and Jamarion Gardner each 2 of 2, McMurry 3 of 4, and McKeage 4 of 6.

Tuesday, the Cougars got 22 points from Samson Hightower, 12 from Brady Hinton and 11 from Kade Wall. Hightower hit 10 of 13 free throws and joined Hinton in playing great defense on star Rebel center Jamison Glass. Wall grabbed 7 rebounds from his point guard position, and Jack Delaney added 5 boards.

The Cougars have beaten the Panthers by narrow margins in both their regular season meetings this year. At Logan on Jan. 5, it took an overtime for the victory. Here’s the Sports Briefs we carried on that one:

“Kade Wall and Samson Hightower each hit a free throw in the last half minute of overtime for the winning Cougar points in a 72-70 victory. Wall finished with 20 points with Hightower and Colby Collins joining him in double figures Eli McMurry, the only Panther senior, led all scorers with 25. Coach Josh Frick’s Cougars ran their record to 8-6.”

In the rematch at Jim Young Gymnasium where tonight’s championship game will be played, the Cougars escaped 58-55. Hightower scored 19 with Wall and Davin Yates adding 11 each. Colby Collins hit two 3-pointers. Hightower was 6 of 6 at the line. Delaney had 6 rebounds with Hightower and Hinton pulling down 4 each.

Coleman scored 17, Gardner 14 and McMurry 11 for the Panthers. McKeage played a little but he was still hobbled with an injury and Stovall was not available because of an injury. McMurry had 10 rebounds with Coleman and Cadence Bertram added 4 each. Coleman hit 3 treys and Gardner 2.

Tipoff is 7 p.m. The game will be carried on WRUS. The draw for regional berths will be held Saturday.


The girls championship game was played Thursday night with a 66-37 victory over Todd Central by Franklin-Simpson, which ran its record to 29-1, tops in the region. The Lady Kats are favored to go to state, and they drew in the opposite bracket from number two rated Warren East.

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