The Couch Indians faced a tall order in the third-place game of the annual Cabool Holiday Basketball Tournament Dec. 30.
Namely, Fair Grove's 6-4 Matt Loyd and 6-7 Justin Cleeton.
Loyd and Cleeton combined to score 28 points and the sixth-seeded Eagles knocked off the fourth-seeded Indians 63-39 to take home the third-place trophy.
Actually, Couch did a good job not letting Cleeton dominate the paint in the game.
The Indians' big problem was letting Fair Grove get off to a running start in the contest.
The Eagles scored the game's first 10 points to take a lead they would hold the entire way.
Blake Martin (eight points) broke the ice for Couch with a jumper at the 4:30 mark of the first for the Indians' first bucket of the game.
Martin hit another hoop late in the frame and Derrick Martin (six points) added a spinning move down low, but Couch was in a 19-7 hole after the first period.
And things didn't improve a whole lot in the second period for the Indians.
Cody Roberts (12 points) popped a jumper to start the second period for Couch, but Fair Grove racked up the next nine points to extend its lead to 28-9.
Roberts halted the Eagles' run with a layup and Eddie Meier (five points) drained a jumper that helped a bit, although Fair Grove took a 34-13 cushion to intermission.
The Indians just couldn't put together enough of a productive stretch in the third to stop Fair Grove on either end of the court and the Eagles took a 53-23 advantage to the final frame.
Josh Carter (four points), Derek Orchard and Chris Taylor all hit buckets for Couch in the last stanza, but Fair Grove ended the evening with a 63-39 victory over the Indians.
Couch opened play in the tourney with a 57-25 licking of 13th-seeded Licking Dec. 26.
Carter and Derrick Martin tallied eight points apiece, while Blake Martin added seven, with Meier and Brad Hopper logging six points each. Zain Hopper and Roberts finished with five points apiece, while Derek Orchard and Taylor had four points each. Josh Brame and Brandin Orahood ended the game with two points each.
The next evening, Dec. 27, the Indians edged past Norwood, the tourney's number 12 seed, 36-32.
Roberts led Couch with nine points, while Zain Hopper had seven and Taylor six. Blake Martin had four points, while Derrick Martin and Brad Hopper logged three points each. Meier and Carter finished with two points apiece.