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Gentry ends Lawrence County season

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County's Phil Moore makes an acrobatic layup over Gentry defender Friday afternoon at Jackson State University.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County’s Phil Moore makes an acrobatic layup over Gentry defender Friday afternoon at Jackson State University.

JACKSON – The Lawrence County Cougars made a return trip to the ‘Big Dance’ Friday afternoon, erasing a 15-year absence. With high hopes of winning a state championship, the Cougars took on the Gentry Rams in the quarterfinals of the MHSAA Class 4A State tournament at Jackson State University Gymnasium.

In a tough, physical battle from start to finish, the Gentry Rams spoiled the Cougars’ dreams with a late 11-5 run in the final two minutes of action in the fourth quarter to prevail 61-55.

The LCHS Cougars, coached by Pat Bridges, finished their Cinderella season with a 21-11 record. Lawrence County has already made plans to make a return trip next year as they have a good nucleus coming back, losing only one senior to graduation.

Gentry 61, Lawrence Co. 55 

In the opening quarter, the Cougars and Rams came out and battled in physical contest from the start as both teams fought hard to keep the game close. Gentry relied on a strong dose of defensive pressure to rattle the Cougars in the beginning to claim a 18-10 advantage after one quarter of action.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County's Keith Davis (22) drives past a Gentry defender in Class 4A tournament action.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County’s Keith Davis (22) drives past a Gentry defender in Class 4A tournament action.

In the second quarter, the Rams continued to keep Lawrence County off-balance with their defensive pressure and slow-pace offensive game plan to wear down the Cougars as Gentry increased their lead with a 11-8 push to take a 29-18 lead into halftime.

In the second half, the Cougars came out of the locker room fired up as they turned up the heat on defense to cause havoc on Gentry. The Cougars’ offense also responded going on a 26-11 run to capture their first lead, after three quarters of action.

In the final quarter, Lawrence County began the period with a lot of momentum in their favor, but the Rams responded by slowing down the Cougars once again to reclaim the lead at 45-44 after three minutes of action.

The Rams managed to increase their lead to 47-44, before Lawrence County answered the challenge as junior guard Gage Lewis nailed three of four free throws to tie the contest at 47-all.

After a quick timeout, the Rams secured another three-point lead 50-47, but Lewis would the tie the game up again for Lawrence County on a three-point play with 2:41 remaining.

Throughout the rest of the contest, the Rams relied on their tough defensive pressure to put the Cougars away as Gentry’s went on an 11-5 offensive run to end the game.

“This was a tough, physical battle for both teams,” LCHS coach Pat Bridges said. “My guys played hard and never gave up. We just made some crucial mistake at the end that hurt us.

Overall, I was very pleased with my guys’ efforts,” Bridges continued. “We had a great year and a good run in the playoffs. This was a great learning experience for everyone, and we are already looking to make a return trip up here next year.”

Lewis powered the Cougars attack with 18 points, four rebounds and three steals. Keith Davis chipped in with 16 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Phil Moore contributed 11 points, six steals and four rebounds. Keyshawn Feazell grabbed seven rebounds and scored seven points.

Rodarius Jackson was the top scorer for the Rams with 20 points and four rebounds. Quintaures Boatman provided 15 points and had five rebounds. Jaleel McCloud was the top rebounder with six rebounds.