By TONY STINNETT/ Courier Sports Editor
COOKEVILLE - Cannon County’s boys basketball team has played its best during the last three weeks of the season.
Senior Jarrett Melton’s consistent play has been a key reason for the overall improvement so when the play-making guard went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter of the District 8-AA consolation game against Upperman there was cause for concern.
It proved to be accurate.
The Lions suffered a 74-60 setback against the Bees in the 8-AA consolation game. The loss forced the Lions to go on the road and face 7-AA Tournament and regular-season champion Bledsoe County in the first round of the Region 4-AA Tournament.
Melton went out in the first half against Upperman and was not able to return. His absence was felt.
“It’s always hard when you lose your second-leading scorer and leading assist guy,” Cannon County Head Coach Matt Rigsby said. “Jarrett has been playing strong and consistent for us, plus he’s a leader on the court so it was tough for us to lose him at this stage against a team playing as well as Upperman.”
Tanner Larson led the Lions with 11 points and Cory Henley added l0 for the Lions. Justin Tobin finished with eight points, followed by Josh Ruehlen with seven and Jacob Nave added six.
Cannon County fell behind 8-0 and 12-5 to start the game but battled back and pulled to within 28-22 by intermission.
Upperman had stretched the lead to double figures early in the third quarter but the Lions put together one final run. Ruehlen’s back-to-back baskets, including a 3-pointer, pulled the Lions to within 55-48 midway through the third quarter but they could not sustain the run.
“I felt like our guys gave us everything they had and they never quit,” Rigsby said. “We made some runs and gave ourselves chances but Upperman has a lot of weapons and they showed that in this game. They were able to knock down several perimeter shots and they also did a good job inside.”
The Bees were led by Tyler McWilliams’ 24 points. Cody DeVillanueva finished with 20, followed by Joseph Jones with 10 points.