Cougars win league championship

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

By Kevin Eckleberry

There was no panic.

Friday’s championship game couldn’t have started much worse for the Long Cane Cougars, who found themselves trailing Gardner Newman Middle School 14-2 in the first half.

It’s an experienced group of players who have faced their share of adversity over the years, so head coach Vacher Hammett wasn’t worried about how they’d respond.

Sure enough, the Cougars fought back to tie it at the half, and they pulled away in the second half for a 47-36 victory.

“My team had some guys that experienced some tough losses last year,” Hammett said. “They came into this year as leaders on and off the court. They welcomed the new guys and pushed each other in practices and in games.”

Hammett said it was “a great group of student athletes that myself and my assistant coach Andre Johnson had the opportunity to coach and mentor.”

Jaylen Young led Long Cane with 14 points, Darquavious Hightower added 12 points, Adrian Tucker scored nine points, and Deauntra Murphy had six points.

Kiian Hodnett paced Gardner Newman with 12 points, and Qua Coverson scored six points.

Trailing 14-2 in the second quarter, the Cougars fought back and pulled even at 17-17 with 1:36 to play, and the score was deadlocked 23-23 at the half.

“In the second quarter, we wore them down with group substitutions with our seventh graders,” Hammett said.

The Cougars continued the momentum in the second half.

“The second half belonged to us,” Hammett said. “We got their key players in foul trouble and began to pull away.”

LONG CANE: Zay Moreland, Cole Gardner, Tae Render, X’Zavious Bulger, Corey Clark, Adrian Tucker, Darquavious Hightower, Tayquan Dowdell, Antavious Langston, Vantavious Shells, Everett Leslie, Brandon Todd, Jay Wortham, Deauntra Murphy, D’Quez Madden, Jaylen Young, Chase Williams, Danh Ham Liemham and Deovion Tucker.