Freshman Garrett McReynolds drives through the Smith County defense for a layup during Friday night's District 8-AA game in Carthage. McReynolds finished with six points.
– Cannon County has made improvements throughout the 2011-12 season but they took a step backwards against a talented Smith County team.
The Lions never appeared in sync early and they lacked consistency throughout in a 80-52 setback against the Owls here Friday (Jan. 13).
“I thought we were beyond this but in adverse situations we don’t seem to rise to the occasion,” Cannon County Head Coach Matt Rigsby said. “It’s not about X’s and O’s. It had nothing to do with their 1-2-1-1 press or 1-2-2 pressure. It’s deeper than that with us.”
Competitive fervor was lacking as the Lions (6-16, 1-5) offered little resistance against a Smith County team that was clicking on all cylinders. The Owls (14-9, 3-3) shot 50 percent or better from the field in all four quarters and were 29-of-55 (53 percent) for the game.
It came against a Cannon County team that has made its name with solid zone defense. The Lions, who have scoring deficiencies, had been able to compete and remain in games due to solid defensive efforts; however, they were tamed by the Owls.
“Give full credit to Smith County. They outplayed us,” Rigsby said. “It’s aggravating because I thought we were past this. You wonder why I use some many different rotations and lineups? Guys are just not being consistent. We just didn’t compete tonight and that’s unfortunate.”
Cory Henley led Cannon County with 13 points on the strength of three 3-pointers and Tommy Mitchell added seven points and was a rare source of energy. Henley and Mitchell, both sophomores, appeared to play with fire and intensity but their supporting cast was lacking.
By the midway point of the second half Rigsby was employing the services of senior Matthew Turney, sophomore Cody Young and three freshmen – Garrett McReynolds, Jacob Nave and Regan Scott. McReynolds finished with six points.
Rigsby utilized the services of his upperclassmen at the outset of the fourth quarter but, after just a few minutes, he was deep into his bench.
“It is unfortunate that we had this type of game,” Henley said. “We haven’t had many nights like this and we have been more competitive in games of late, but this was a setback because we know we can play better. We have to give better effort and that has nothing to do with ability.”
Rigsby did praise the play of Mitchell, who was all over the court, deflecting passes and diving for loose balls.
“I can’t say enough about (Mitchell),” Rigsby said. “He was all over the place, getting on the floor, trying to make things happen. Regardless of the score, he played hard and gave his best effort.”
The Lions, who were just 7-of-28 (25 percent) in the second half, fell behind by 63-36 by the end of the third quarter as their usually solid half-court defense was no match for the Owls.
So, as the District 8-AA race hits the halfway mark where do the Lions go from here?
“It’s a Catch 22,” Rigsby said. “My job as a coach is to evaluate the players in practice and the minutes are distributed based on what I see in practice. With that being said, when the lights go on and people have to pay to watch us play, those same results are not evident in the games. Regardless of how well we do things in practice, we have to be able to transfer that into the games and that is not happening consistently.”
The Lions will play host to York at Robert A. Gymnasium Friday (Jan. 20).