By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
Most championship caliber teams bounce back from a tough loss with a statement-making win.
Consider the Lions contenders.
No. 8 Cannon County (21-4, 8-1) rebounded from its lone District 8-AA loss (a 57-52 setback at Macon County) with a commanding 47-23 win against Central Magnet (2-18, 0-10).
The Lions maintained a 1-1/2 game lead over Livingston Academy atop the District 8-AA standings with four games remaining. Cannon County closes the regular season at Livingston Academy.
It wasn’t a convincing win because the Lions won by 24. They didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard with 47 points but what they did was dominate the game on both ends of the court.
Their staunch defense was as good as ever.
Central is not the first team to have the Lions clamp down on them defensively. Cannon County allows just 47.3 points per game, which is 16th in the state for fewest points allowed. That’s 16th in the state regardless of classification.
Central connected on just nine field goals. The Tigers were 9-of-42 from the field and could never get into an offensive rhythm.
“Our kids were hungry to get back on the court after a tough loss at Macon County,” Lions head coach Matt Rigsby said. “I believe the mark of a good team is how you bounce back after tough losses. We bounced back in a good way. This was big because there is no margin for error down the stretch.”
Garrett McReynolds and Tanner Larson led a balanced attack with 13 points each. Cory Henley added nine points, followed by Jacob Nave (6), Marshall McReynolds (4) and Austin Brock (2).
The Lions led 25-11 at the half and had grabbed control; however, they unleashed defensive fury in the third quarter.
Cannon County used an 18-4 run in the stanza to open a 43-15 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Central Magnet was 4-of-20 from the field in the second half, hitting two field goals in the third and fourth quarters.
“We were active defensively and disrupted their offense,” Larson said. “We were able to get some deflections and blocks and that led to some easy points for us. The big thing for us was to bounce back and play well. We had to get back in the win column.”
The Lions were 21--of-60 from the field, but that included a 2-for-18 effort in the fourth quarter when the game had materialized into a junior varsity affair.