By JUSTIN BEASLEY,Courier Sports Writer
Seventh year head coach Matt Rigsby is coaching one of his best teams he's had at Cannon County.
With his talented group, the Lions have had double-digit leads often late into the third and early fourth quarters, but, Cannon County is still learning how to keep its foot on the gas pedal and play four full quarters of basketball.
Tuesday, the Lions took a step in the right direction, defeating Macon County at home 80-62 for the team's second district sweep of the season.
"We talk about four quarter stuff, that's two games in a row. Hopefully that's an upward trend," Rigsby said of his team's performance.
Leading by 10 at the break, Cannon County (19-5, 8-1) worked to increase its advantage in the third quarter.
The Lions would score on six of their first nine possessions in the third quarter, including two consecutive made shots from Jacob Nave to extend the Cannon County lead to 49-34.
Cannon County made 8-of-13 shots from the field in the third stanza and carried a 56-43 lead into the fourth.
Off the bench, Briar Jakes helped the Lions offensively with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a 3-of-4 clip from the 3-point line.
Jakes scored 10 in the second quarter alone, knocking down two consecutive 3's while taking a charge and forcing a turnover off a steal.
"He had a heck of a night. I don't even need to see his stats," Rigsby said of Jakes' spark off the bench. "He can do that. There is a reason he has the minutes that he has."
"Tonight was pretty spectacular."
Three other Lions scored in double figures as well as Nave led the attack with 17 points, followed by Josh Ruehlen with 16 and Austin Martin with 14.
12 14 17 19 62
17 19 20 24 80
Macon County: Seth Carlisle 12, Michael Ashburn 2, Tyler Carlisle 2, Alex Hill 4, Evan Perrigo 16, Riley Phillips 2, Trace McPherson 14, Clay Carnahan 6, Heston King 4.
Cannon County: Josh Ruehlen 16, Jacob Nave 17, Marshall McReynolds 5, Austin Martin 14, A.J. Daniel 3, Briar Jakes 15, Garrett McReynolds 8, Anton Knox 2.
4th quarter comeback extends win streak to 7
Free throws help CC survive
Rarely have the Region 4, District 8-AA first place Lions trailed heading into the fourth quarter this season.
Friday night in Smith County, Cannon County saved its best for last, scoring 20 points in the final period to give the Lions their seventh win in a row defeating the Owls 54-51.
"Thanks goodness for free-throws," head coach Matt Rigsby said. "22-of-27 is a good way to bail yourself out of a jam."
The Lions made 11-of-12 from the free throw line in the final quarter, including a perfect 6-of-6 from Jacob Nave.
"We're always in a battle up there at Smith County. I knew we would be too," Rigsby said.
Cannon County (20-5, 9-1) led at the half by one point, but a 14-7 third quarter advantage for the Owls setup an opportunity for the Lions to get another come-from-behind victory.
The win keeps Cannon County alone in first place of the district with Livingston Academy (18-5, 8-2) only one game behind.
"We knew nothing was going to be easy for us. Furthermore, we've been telling our kids three weeks now when you're on top of the district standings, everybody sees it and everybody wants to knock you off," Rigsby said.
Only four players scored for the Lions as Josh Ruehlen led the way with 22 points. Nave and Garrett McReynolds added 12 and 11 respectively. Austin Martin tallied nine points and seven rebounds.
Up next the Lions look to avenge their only district loss of the season as York Institute visits Robert A. Harris Gym on Tuesday for senior night.
"We definitely owe them one, make no mistake about it," Rigsby said.
15 11 07 20 54
Smith County 13 12 14 12 51
Cannon County: Josh Ruehlen 22, Jacob Nave 12, Austin Martin 9, Garrett McReynolds 11.
Smith County: Seth Hackett 13, Jaylon Shepperson 11, T.J. Smith 5, Camron Huff 18, King Shermar 4.