Although it was Senior Night at the Cougar Den in Brockwell Feb. 8, it was a sophomore who stole the show as the Izard County Consolidated Lady Cougars played host to the Highland Lady Rebels in a non-conference tilt that both squads played with one eye focused on this week's district tournament action.
Brittney Richardson, ICC's 10th-grade point guard, had a mammoth game with 31 points and six blocked shots as the Lady Cougars got past Highland 60-52 in overtime.
Wrapping up the evening, the Rebels used a couple of big bursts in the second half to break open a tight contest, as they outpaced the homestanding Cougars 73-49.
In the girls' contest, four periods of play was not enough for a winner to emerge.
With the Lady Cougars (25-8) up 44-42 with 10 seconds left in regulation, a five-second call as ICC attempted to inbound the ball gave the Lady Rebs a final shot at victory.
Highland (11-13) missed that final shot, but Molly Carpenter snagged the rebound and was fouled on the putback try with six ticks left. Carpenter paced the Lady Rebel attack with 16 points on the night.
Striding to the charity stripe, Carpenter knocked in a pair of free throws to deadlock the game at 44-all, sending it to an extra frame.
In overtime, Chelsie Yancey came up big for ICC, as she sank both her buckets on the game within 20 seconds of each other, helping the Lady Cougars outscore Highland 16-8 in the period to post an eight-point win over the Lady Rebels.
ICC sprinted out of the starting blocks quickly in the first period, thanks to Richardson.
She popped a trey to open the scoring for the Lady Cougars, on her way to posting nine of ICC's 11 first-period points.
Courtney Sublett (11 points) struck back for Highland by tossing in six points in the first stanza, but the Lady Rebs were down 11-10 after one.
This disadvantage didn't last long as Carpenter and Anna Street (13 points) logged two points apiece to open the second, giving Highland its first lead of the game, 14-11, at the 6:19 mark of the second.
Highland maintained the lead at the half when Kelly Ratliff (four points) converted a pair of free throws to make it 20-18, Lady Rebs, at intermission.
The third period was a see-saw tussle the whole way, with the scoreboard knotted at 28-all headed into the fourth.
Richardson started the fourth period much as she did the first for ICC by tossing in her squad's first seven points in the frame, staking the Lady Cougars to a 35-34 lead with 4:01 left to play.
Lauren Cunningham (nine points, 10 boards) made sure ICC stayed in front by slipping in the lane for back-to-back layups, and Sammi Fowler (eight points) tacked on a hoop to boost the Lady Cougars' margin to 43-38 at the 1:15 mark.
Down but not out, Highland fought to the finish with layups from Street and Carpenter inside the 20-second mark of the fourth that set the Lady Rebs up with Carpenter's big shots from the charity stripe to extend the contest.
Scoring the first four points of overtime, ICC hung onto to the lead long enough to end with a victory.
Kara Yancey tallied six points for the Lady Cougars, while Brittney Bailey added two.
Kayla Evans finished with four for Highland, with Ashley Witt adding two, and Kristen Young one.
On the boys' side of things, it was a chance to see two of the region's sweetest shooting guards, Highland's Mike Kish and ICC's Justin Burns.
As it turned out, neither disappointed, and the first half was an entertaining battle of long range marksmanship between the two.
Kish (15 points) racked up 13 points, including three triples, in the first half of play, while Burns countered by posting all of his 18 points for the game during that span, knocking in four treys in the process.
The Cougars were behind the 8-ball a bit to start the game, as their ace point guard, Jesse Dockins, was injured and able just to take the floor to start the senior-night contest, then was replaced immediately following the opening tap.
The Rebels grabbed an 18-13 lead after the first period, thanks in part to a couple of late hoops in the lane by Austin Smith (eight points).
Highland's lead grew to 10, 24-14, midway into the second as Dylan Patterson (six points) got on the board by ringing up a 3-pointer.
Stu Smart added a pair of buckets to keep Highland (26-3) on top, before the Cougars closed the period strong. Smart led all scorers with 20 points on the night.
Down 28-16, Burns drilled his fourth bomb of the half, and Jason Sherrell (19 points) went to work down low and logged a pair of scores in the paint.
Jonathan Quillman (five points) shook free for a deuce, and ICC had trimmed Highland's lead to 30-25 at the 1:44 mark.
After a trey by Kish and old-fashioned 3-point play by Smart upped the Rebs' lead back to 10, 36-26, Burns drained a jumper at the buzzer that ended the first half of play with Highland holding a 36-28 lead.
This lead would evaporate to nothing in the first two minutes of the third period thanks to Sherrell.
Going on a personal 8-0 run that included a pair of shots beyond the arc, Sherrell single-handedly wiped out the Rebels' lead, locking the game at 36-all.
This also turned out to be a last gasp of sorts for the Cougars, as Highland bursted in front by closing the third on a deadly 14-2 run that saw them in front 50-38 after three.
It was more of the same in the fourth, as ICC couldn't manage to close ground as Highland ended the evening with a 73-49 win over the Cougars.
Andy Ward had a big second half on the low blocks for the Rebels, tossing in 11 of his 13 points for the night in the game's last 12 minutes of play. Jeremy Hansen finished with eight for Highland, while Cody Seward and Allan Price tallied two points apiece.
Chance Huihui scored four for ICC, with James Morgan adding two, and Michael Martin one for the Cougars.