By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
SMITHVILLE - Cannon County Head Coach Matt Rigsby says every team in District 8-AA is a rival because the Lions’ goal is a league championship.
With all due respect, beating DeKalb County always holds a bit more of a special place for Cannon County followers.
The locals will be talking about the latest installment in the long-running rival for some time following Cannon County’s 73-49 pounding of the Tigers in their home den Friday (Dec. 13).
The 24-point thumping was Cannon County’s largest margin of victory against its rival since a 77-58 win in Woodbury Jan. 18, 2002.
“I believe the rivalry means more to our fans and it should because it’s a big rivalry,” said Rigsby, who has played and coached in the game as a former Cannon County hoopster. “A district win is a district win no matter who we play. Everybody is a rival because our goal is to win a district championship.”
The Lions took a gigantic step toward achieving that goal or at least positioning itself for a strong finish. They are 10-1 overall and 4-0 in District 8-AA with road wins at York and now DeKalb.
Senior sharpshooter Cory Henley led three starters in double figures with 18 and has scored double figures in 10 of the team’s 11 games, including 15 or more eight times. Josh Ruehlen poured in 13 points from the perimeter.
Jacob Nave continued his breakout junior campaign with another staggering stat line. The junior forward produced his second double double in three games with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He also had six assists and two steals. Tanner Larson added 10 points, followed by Dalton Ryan (6), Tommy Mitchell (5), Austin Martin (4), Anton Knox (4) and Marshall McReynolds (2). Garrett McReynolds had seven rebounds.
The Lions used a 23-9 second quarter to take a 39-18 halftime lead. They never faltered in the second half, extending the lead to 56-29 after three quarters.
Cannon County shot 47 percent from the field, knocking down 28-of-60 shots. It also converted 10-of-12 free throws. The Lions won the battle of the boards 29-20 and held the Tigers to 17-of-48 shooting.