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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bobcats handle their business against the Couch Indians

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Photo by Steven Looney Thayer junior Levi Hargrove puts up a lay-up. [Order this photo]
The Thayer Bobcats went to Couch on Dec. 7, and beat the Indians in all three games played. The varsity boys team won a game that was closer than the score indicates, 49-41. The varsity Lady Bobcats stomped the Lady Indians 58-34, and the junior varsity girls team beat Couch 34-6.

Couch girls head coach Adam Blackwell said, despite losing both girls games, the teams can still learn from the experience.

"I thought we did a wonderful job running our offense and getting good looks. It's something that we've struggled with and really worked on in practices," Blackwell said. "The defensive end is where we're really gonna have to step it up. We gave up too many easy shots and we're not doing a good job of switching when we need to."

The varsity girls game began with Thayer sophomore Jordan Alford taking the opening tip, and putting in a lay-up just seconds into the game. Couch junior Taylor Emberton answered on the other end by getting an offensive rebound and scoring on the put back, while drawing a foul. Emberton made the free throw to put Couch ahead 3-2.

Alford put in two free throws to give Thayer the lead a few possessions later. After a defensive stop, the Bobcats extended the lead to three points off a lay-up by junior Elly Burrell. On Couch's next possession, Emberton tossed the ball to sophomore Sam Janes for the assist and bucket to make the score 6-5, Thayer. With just over five minutes left in the first quarter, Couch sophomore T'Ra Brockman gave the Indians a 7-6 lead.

Burrell responded by stealing a rebound from the Indians and dropping another two points to put Thayer back in the drivers seat. With just over three minutes left in the third, Burrell was sent to the free throw line, where she hit one of two shots to extend the lead to three.

Burrell's run continued on Thayer's next possession. Alford received a pass on the wing and found Burrell in the post. A decisive drop-step later, Burrell added two more points to her total.

Janes missed a buzzer beater three at the end of the first quarter, and the Bobcats took a 12-7 lead into the second quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Couch scored first but Thayer senior Emily Eckman hit a lay-up to give Thayer the lead back; 14-9. By the mid-way point of the second quarter, Thayer had extended it's lead to 20-11.

With 3:50 left in the first half, Eckman hit a jumper, which made Thayer double up on Couch, 22-11.

On Couch's next possession, Emberton was sent to the free throw line. After hitting the first shot, Thayer made a substitution and brought in senior Courtney Hargrove to a massive ovation from the crowd. She was on the court for the first time this season, after recovering from injury. Hargrove got the rebound off the second free throw, which was missed. On the next trip down the court, she got an offensive rebound and scored on the put back for her first basket of the season.

Soon after Hargrove's appearance, Alford hit two free throws to make the score 26-12. With just over 1:30 left in the half, Alford drove the lane, and hit a lay-up to make the score 28-12.

After Eckman missed a lay-up at the buzzer, Thayer took a 34-14 lead into the locker room for half-time.

By the end of the third quarter, the Lady Bobcats had extended their lead to 18 points; 44-26.

Unfortunately for the Indians, Thayer's defense kept Couch at bay through the final period, and the Bobcats picked up a 58-34 win.

Unlike the first two games of the night, the varsity boys game was competitive throughout. Neither team was able to pull away from the other until the closing seconds of the game.

Thayer junior Levi Hargrove opened the game with a basket, but Couch senior Jimmy Jones hit a three in response.

Couch went on a 7-2 run to start the game, but Thayer answered with a run of their own. Led by Hargrove, the Bobcats went on a run to close the first quarter on a 10-0 run. Hargrove had eight points in the first quarter, Thayer junior Mitch Webber added the other two.

Thayer continued their run early on in the second. Three minutes into the quarter, the Indians finally broke the run and made the score 14-9. Couch clawed back to within one point in the next minute, and were down 14-13 with under four minutes left in the quarter.

For the remainder of the first half, neither team gained an advantage. Couch tied the game four times in the final three minutes, but Thayer was able to take a 21-18 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter would continue the slugfest that started late in the second quarter. Jones hit two three-pointers, which were answered by three's from Webber and Thayer junior Zach Steed, all four shots on consecutive possessions. And with 6:18 left in the third quarter, Thayer was ahead 27-23.

With just over one minute left in the quarter, Thayer was leading 31-30. Steed was streaking down the court, when a Couch player got in his way. Steed attempted a behind the back dribble and the ball got caught behind his back forcing him to travel; or so it appeared to the Couch fans who were outraged when a foul was called and Thayer kept possession of the ball. Nothing became of that possession, and neither team scored until the buzzer.

With just under five seconds left in the third period, Couch junior Josh Foster grabbed an inbound pass and streaked down the court. When he reached the free throw line, he tossed up a floater that kissed the backboard before dropping in the hoop. Couch had taken the lead, 32-31; and the crowd was electric.

Couch's lead was short-lived, as Steed hit a three just twenty seconds into the final quarter to put Thayer ahead 34-32. The Bobcats never relinquished that lead.

With 4:45 left in the final quarter, Thayer junior Jacob Foley hit a lay-up that extended the lead to four points, 38-34.

Every basket, one side of the capacity crowd exploded. The trading of baskets continued throughout the next several minutes. Couch senior Justin Lewis got an offensive rebound and got the put back to bring the game to one possession. Hargrove then drove the baseline, and scored on a reverse lay-up while surrounded by three Indians, to make it a four point lead with just over three minutes left. Couch junior Shon Sorrell responded with a lay-up of his own to make the score 40-38.

Webber hit a free throw to put Thayer up by three with 2:30 left in the game. Hargrove hit a lay-up and went to the line for one more to make the score 44-38 with 1:05 left in the game. From there, Thayer kept hitting free throws and Couch kept fouling. Jones and Sorrell both fouled out in the final minute, and Thayer took home a 49-41 victory, after Couch senior Cody Lee hit a three as the buzzer sounded.

Thayer boys head coach Matt Pitts said he was aware of the score, but not nervous late in the game.

"It's one of those things, we just had to make plays. We had some trouble early, but down the stretch we made a few free throws, we got some big rebounds. We're still young and we're still learning,'" Pitts said.

Couch has four games the week of Dec. 10. On the tenth, Couch's girls go to Liberty for a showdown with the Eagles. On the eleventh, Dora visits the Indians. The Alton Comets come to Couch on the thirteenth, and Couch hosts Gainesville on Dec. 14.

Thayer visits the Mammoth Spring Bears on Dec. 14. Pitts said it will be a hard game.

"We have a week to prepare for [the Bears]. It'll be a tough one down there. They're a great team and they'll be well coached. It'll be a tough game," Pitts said.

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