TONY STINNETT/ Courier Sports Editor
MORRISON - Cannon County Head Boys Basketball Coach Matt Rigsby believes his team can be a factor in the District 8-AA race during the second half of the season.
First, the Lions need to develop an identity.
Cannon County rolled past Monterey, 66-46, in the second game of the Sun Drop Romp Christmas Tournament at Morrison School, but the Lions (8-6) were sluggish and did not impress their coach in doing so.
The Monterey win was sandwiched between losses to Wilson Central (52-34) and Haywood (61-40).
“If we figure out maturity, focus and mental toughness we will do a lot of great things in our district,” Rigsby said. “Until then we will continue to play inconsistent from quarter to quarter and game to game and not know what we are going to get production-wise from each player, night-in, night-out.”
Cory Henley led the Lions with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting against Monterey. Josh Ruehlen enjoyed his most substantial playing time and contributed 10 points. Garrett McReynolds added six points, five rebounds and two assists, while Jarrett Melton finished with six points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Despite a sluggish first-half performance, Cannon County carried a 29-24 advantage into the half; however, Rigsby came back with five sophomore starters for the second half.
Ruehlen, McReynolds, Jacob Nave, Jackson Mason and Marshall McReynolds earned the second half nod and provided a spark. They maintained the lead through the third quarter but also played with intensity and passion.
“I felt like those guys have been sitting and watching mediocrity and not just the first half (against Monterey), but also the last few weeks,” Rigsby said. “I’ve seen what they can do in practice and they deserved an opportunity in the game. I thought they held their own.”
It also seemed to spark the upperclassmen as Cannon County used a 23-10 run to break the game open in the fourth quarter.
“We have the talent to compete but we have to become a more consistent basketball team,” Rigsby said. “We were much better in the second half.”