By TONY STINNETT, Sports Editor
JAMESTOWN - Four players scored in double figures and Cannon County controlled the game from the outset as the Lions cleared their first major District 8-AA road hurdle with a 60-47 win at York Thursday.
Cory Henley led a balanced attack with 16 points, Josh Ruehlen poured in 15, Jacob Nave 13 and Tanner Larson 10 as the Lions (8-1, 2-0)
Notching the early-season road win was critical considering both teams are expected to contend for the District 8-AA title.
"York is a contender and that's one of the many reasons the game was so huge," Cannon County Head Boys Basketball Coach Matt Rigsby said. "Our guys respected York going into the game. I hope they realize what a quality win we had. If you want to be a contender you have to pull out (road) games like that.
"You have to be proud anytime kids are on a bus for two hours and then come out ready to play the way we did, and I am. I am very proud of our team."
And with good reason.
The Lions controlled the game from the outset, frustrating the Dragons (3-3, 1-1) with airtight defense and precision offense.
Cannon County built an Lions early seven-point lead and maintained it throughout the game.
"It never felt like we had the game under control because York has good players and they can make a run at any time," Henley said. "We knew we couldn't let up."
Even when York made a much-anticipated run in the fourth quarter and twice had possession of the ball down eight points, Cannon County didn't flinch.
After two failed possessions, Henley nailed a long 3-pointer and added another short jumper to maintain the advantage in the waning minutes.
"We got stops when we needed it and we countered their possessions when we needed to in order to maintain that advantage," Rigsby said. "The game was in our control throughout but it didn't feel like it."
Nave was once again a force. The junior forward recorded his first double double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He added six assists for good measure.
"Nave does it all for us," Rigsby said. "He is just solid and he was one of several guys who put together a complete game."
Ruehlen helped vault the Lions to an early lead they wouldn't relinquish when he rose up against the York zone and knocked down two big jumpers from beyond the arc. Larson manned the middle with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Austin Martin also came off of the bench and had superlative moments with key rebounds and defensive stops.
Defense and free-throw shooting also keyed victory.
York was averaging 61 points going into the game and was limited to 47 against a Lions defense that has been unrelenting. The Lions also connected on 16-of-20 free throws, including 11-of-13 when the game was on the line down the stretch.
Conversely, York was 15-of-27 from the charity line, including 8-of-17 in the opening half.
Cannon County jumped out to an 18-11 advantage and maintained it. The Lions led 28-20 at half and kept it at eight, 43-35, entering the fourth quarter.