Cougars fall just short in tight game

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – This time, a close one didn’t go their way.

The Lafayette Christian School Cougars have been exceptional this season in close games, and they found themselves in another tight one with Heirway Christian on Monday night in a region game.

Lafayette Christian had the lead with a little more than three minutes remaining, and it was within three late, but it was Heirway Christian pulling away for a 76-69 victory.

The Cougars (5-4 overall) are still in good shape in the region with a 5-2 record, and they split the regular-season series with Heirway.

“We just had to finish our shots,” Lafayette Christian coach Jarred Pike said. “The shots we miss, those layups, that comes back to hurt you. They finished their shots, and we couldn’t on our end.”

Heirway Christian’s Michael Foster had no trouble finishing shots.

Foster exploded for 37 points, while Nathan Elkins and Marquis Mullett scored 18 and 17 points, respectively.

For Lafayette Christian, Ross Clifton made three 3-pointers and led the way with 22 points, Gregory Benefield had a big all-around effort with 17 points, eight rebounds and a pair of steals, and Onesimus Parks scored 16 points.

Both teams struggled to find their offensive form early, and it was Heirway taking a 13-8 after the first period.

The shots started falling in the second quarter, and Heirway took a 36-32 lead into the halftime break.

Trailing by two, the Cougars went on an 8-0 run to grab a 49-43 lead with 2:38 left in the third period.

Heirway went on to trail by as many as seven points, but Foster hit a 3-pointer, and then finished the third quarter with a steal and layup to cut Lafayette Christian’s lead to 54-53 heading to the fourth period.

It was back-and-forth for a while in the fourth period, and when Benefield hit a jumper with 3:20 to play, Lafayette Christian had a 65-64 lead.

Mullett answered with a three-point play on the other end to give Heirway Christian a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

A Parks free throw made it a three-point game with 49 seconds left, but Heirway Christian scored the game’s final four points, all from the free-throw line.

In Monday’s girls’ game, the Lady Cougars remained winless by falling 46-28, but they did make some progress by playing four, full-length, eight-minute quarters.

The previous games were all shortened late because of the mercy rule.

Abbey Hudson, Lafayette Christian’s leading scorer this season, scored 15 points, and Devin Taylor added seven points.

“I’m very proud of the team,” Lafayette Christian coach Paula Johnson said. “They played very hard.”