Couch survives late comebacks from Mammoth Spring, sweeps visitors
In a night of big-time performances by big-time players, it was hard to tell just whose star shone the brightest.
Maybe it was the way Couch's Cody Roberts hit three big free throws in the last 47 seconds of the game. Or maybe it was the way that Roberts' teammate, Doug Melton, grabbed a missed shot and stuck it back with 10 ticks left on the clock.
Or what about the way Mammoth Spring's Aaron Shipp stepped up and drilled two absolutely huge 3-pointers in the last minute-plus of the game. And speaking of treys, Shipp's running mate Seth Godwin nailed a pair of big ones to open and close the third period for the Bears.
And let's don't forget the girls.
Couch's Kandy York set the night on fire with a big 29-point effort, while Mammoth Spring's Kylee Busch unloaded for 12 big fourth-periods points down the stretch for the Lady Bears.
Regardless of who cast the brightest light, it was non-stop excitement as Couch played host to Mammoth Spring Dec. 14.
And in the end, Couch swept its visitors from south of the border, with the Indians winning a thrill-a-minute 56-53 contest over the Bears, while the Lady Indians knocked off the Lady Bears 78-71 to start the evening.
In boys' action, the Bears fought back from a 12-point deficit with a furious fourth-period comeback that ended four points shy of victory for Mammoth Spring. Even more remarkable was the fact the Bears were able to mount a rally with four starters clinging on in the final frame with four fouls each.
The seeds for the Bears' fourth-period charge were sown in the third period, after Couch took a 31-19 lead to the half.
Godwin started things off on a positive note for the Bears by busting the first of two treys in the third. Godwin paced Mammoth Spring with a game-high 15 points.
While Godwin was bombing away from the outside, Zain Hopper was busy keeping Couch in front by working the inside for the Indians. Hopper tossed in seven of his nine points for the game in the third.
But it was the Bears who had last say in the third.
Trevor Vincent (five points) started a 7-0 period-ending run for the Bears by slipping free for a layup. Godwin then closed the book with a triple and baseline jumper to pull the Bears within three, down 40-37, after three.
Free throws from Couch's Brad Hopper (four points) and Nick Ford (seven points) pushed the Indians on top 51-44, setting up a furious final three minutes of play.
Shipp (13 points) jump-started Mammoth Spring's rally with a free throw and then Godwin followed with a steal and layup.
Then Shipp came up aces by canning a 3-ball at the 1:25 point of the fourth, pulling the Bears within a single point, 51-50. Mammoth Spring had a great shot at grabbing the lead as Gage Busch (seven points) picked up a steal and headed toward the Bears' end of the court. Mammoth Spring couldn't get a bucket off this turnover, allowing the Indians to add to their lead via the charity stripe.
Roberts (14 points) hit three out of four from the line to boost Couch's advantage to 54-50 with 32 ticks remaining.
This was plenty of time for Shipp to unholster his gun once again. His 3-ball at the 22-second mark once again drew the Bears within a single point.
As it turns out, that was the Bears' last points of the evening.
Melton (12 points) followed a missed shot next time down court for Couch, sticking it back in the bucket with 10 ticks left to keep the Indians on top 56-53.
The Bears had one last gasp at knotting the game, but a Mammoth Spring 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed, leaving Couch with a hard-fought three-point win.
Couch led 13-10 after the first period and extended that margin to 31-19 at intermission before the Bears turned up the intensity in the last two periods.
Blake Martin logged eight points for the Indians, with Josh Hopper adding two.
Wes Davis finished with six points for Mammoth Spring, while Adam Watson tallied five, and Ethan Gaines two.
While the boys' clash resembled more of a grind-it-out affair, the girls' tilt was anything but. The Lady Indians racked up 45 points in the first half alone, while their boy counterparts from Couch finished their game with just 11 more for the night.
The Lady Bears, too, played catchup late before falling in the end. Down by as many as 16 points in the second half, Mammoth Spring closed the gap in the fourth with an outstanding effort, but it was just not quite enough for a victory.
The difference in this game was the play of York inside the lane. With most all of her hoops coming at point-blank range, she was just too much for the Lady Bears to counter.
But Mammoth Spring did make things interesting in the final period.
With the Lady Bears down 68-51 after three, Busch came out swinging for Mammoth Spring in the fourth.
She hit back-to-back buckets to begin the fourth for the Lady Bears. Busch (18 points) then uncorked a triple, followed by one from Kayly Vest (19 points) that narrowed the gap to 10, 73-63.
Busch hit one more trey, right before the final buzzer sounded, but the Lady Indians survived the Mammoth Spring rally to win by seven points.
The first half was played at a breakneck pace, with both clubs running, pressing and trapping at will.
The Lady Bears led early in the first thanks to two tripled from Courtney Risner (six points) and one from Vest.
Couch answered with a late 7-0 runout fueled by four points from Sadee Risner and a 3-ball by Tara Combs (seven points).
Couch led 25-20 after one.
The second period was the one in which York began to flex her muscles.
As the rate of speed at which the game was being played slowed a bit in the frame, York went to work down low and tossed in 14 of her game-high 29 points in the second. Ashley Walsh (16 points) countered with eight points for Mammoth Spring in the second, but Couch held a 45-39 lead at the break.
The Lady Indians built this lead into a 16-point advantage in the third before the Lady Bears hit the gas in the fourth to mount a worthy comeback attempt.
Kassi Burr finished with 12 points for Couch, while Whitney Mills and Lorra Wicker followed with 11 points each. Jessica Jones and Courtney Redus tallied two points apiece for the Lady Indians.
Melanie Maguffee posted eight points for Mammoth Spring, with Stevi Benedict hitting three for the Lady Bears.