By JUSTIN BEASLEY, Courier Sports Writer
LAFAYETTE - During Monday's practice and Tuesday's pregame warm-ups, head coach Matt Rigsby preached to his team about the importance of winning district road games.
And judging by the Lions' 59-48 win at Macon County Tuesday night, consider the message well-received.
"Anything I called, we executed, defensively or offensively, which goes back to our focus and how mentally focused they were," Rigsby said.
With a 29-21 lead at the half, Josh Ruehlen was a one-man wrecking crew coming out of the locker room.
Ruehlen scored the first seven points in the third quarter, including nine of the first 11 points in the opening three minutes. During that 17-3 Lion run, Ruehlen had three steals to up the lead to 46-24 at the end of the period.
"Josh gave us a spark early," said Rigsby. "When we get going offensively, not only are we a good defensive team, we get better defensively. We are hopping around and doing things."
Shooting 53 percent from the floor (7-of-13), Garrett McReynolds led the Lions (7-2, 2-0) with 19 points. Ruehlen and Jacob Nave added 16 and 12 respectively.
After two lead changes in less than two minutes, Cannon County outscored Macon County 9-1 in the final three minutes before the half. Briar Jakes capped off the run with a steal and 3-pointer in the same sequence to give the Lions a big momentum boost.
"We can't win without Briar Jakes, it is that simple," Rigsby said. "Shooters are kind of polarizing, everybody looks at them as shooters, but what he does defensively for us is just as important."
The Lions shot 47 percent (20-of-42) from the field.
"They adhered to the game plan and far exceeded what we wanted to do," Rigsby said.
Cannon County 16 13 17 13 59
Macon County 11 10 3 24 48
Cannon County: Josh Ruehlen 16, Austin Martin 7, Jacob Nave 12, Marshall McReynolds 2, Garret McReynolds 19, Briar Jakes 3.
Macon County: Seth Carlisle 9, Michael Ashburn 11, Tyler Carlisle 5, Evan Perrigo 8, Nick Hill 4, Matt Austin 4, Trace McPherson 7.
Lions win 5th straight
Ruehlen rules the court with 32 points
MANCHESTER - After Tuesday's road victory at Macon County, head coach Matt Rigsby said his team executed just about anything he called offensively.
Well that would an understatement for Friday's home game versus Smith County, as the Lions scored a season-high 84 points in their 84-60 win.
Point guard Josh Ruehlen, who poured in 32 points on 10-of-13 shooting, led the Lions in scoring. Jacob Nave added 21 points shooting 8-of-11 from the floor while Marshall McReynolds finished with 11.
Overall, Cannon County (8-2, 3-0) shot 57 percent as a team from the court. The Lions have won five straight dating back to Nov. 29.
Despite being tied at 13 entering the second period, Ruehlen scored 12 of Cannon County's 25 points giving the Lions a 38-30 lead going into the half.
Ruehlen's was a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe in the second quarter to go along with two field goals.
In the third quarter, the Lions extended their lead to 61-47, in large part to a combined 16 points from Ruehlen and Nave.
The 24-point win ties the Lions' largest margin of victory this year with their 69-45 win over Warren County on Nov. 24.
Up Next: The Lions travel to York Institute for another district 8-AA game on Tuesday.
Smith County 13 17 17 13 60
Cannon County 13 25 23 22 84
Smith County: Seth Hackett 15, Jaylon Shepperson 4, Tanner Hackett 10, T.J. Smith 4, Tyler Letterman 2, Jase Holder 2, Cameron Huff 9, Sherman King 6, Johnny Hayden 8.
Cannon County: Josh Ruehlen 32, Austin Martin 4, Jacob Nave 21, Marshall McReynolds 11, Garret McReynolds 6, Briar Jakes 6, Anton Knox 2, Colin Anderson 2.