Hardin County hammers Demons
Cougars never look back in lopsided win; Dongola stays winless
After beginning their season 2-8, including not winning a game in either of their first two tournaments, the Hardin County Cougars were looking for some success when they opened the second half of their regular season schedule on Thursday night at Dongola.

Coach Rodney Lane's team responded with a blowout victory over a winless opponent, as the Cougars led from the outset in a 81-25 triumph in which nearly everyone in a uniform scored.

Ten different players produced points for Hardin County as they captured their third victory after jumping out to a 23-1 lead at the end of the first quarter and never let up until the final minutes.

Senior guard Tyler Winters and junior forward Hunter Cullum did most of the offensive damage for Hardin County as each of the players netted 16-points to lead the balanced attack.

Junior center Jamison Hicks added 14-points while seniors Craig Hudson and Cameron Shaw came off the bench to add nine and seven-points to the bombardment.

Sophomore Gabe Fowler also contributed in the dismantling of the Demons, adding eight-points.

“That (intensity) is what we have been working on and that is why we were 2-8 coming into tonight. We have played quarters, we have played halves, but we haven't put games together,” said Coach Lane. “We have to get effort throughout the game. It is what we have been working on for the last week after the Eldorado Tournament. Maybe they (the players) saw the light. We will see tomorrow night. Maybe we will see the same kind of effort.”

While the Cougars were rolling on both ends of the floor, Dongola continued its rough season in which they have yet to taste victory, as the loss makes them 0-14.

Entering the season with zero varsity experience for new head coach Duffy Sanders, the Demons had been competitive in some of their previous contests but were no match for the Cougars on Thursday evening.

Coach Sanders' club was led by freshman Evan Treat with six-points and they got four-points each from freshman Joey Thomas and freshman Andrew Tarpley.

Dongola, in fact, has just three seniors, three sophomores and nine freshman in the entire program as Coach Sanders tries to rebuild after graduation took its toll last winter.

Although Coach Lane's club didn't full-court press, they made things difficult for the Demons on offense.

Dongola ended up with 31-turnovers on the night and were never in the contest.

Hardin County missed a lot of shots in the early going but they made up for the misfires with solid work on the offensive glass.

They corralled 20 of their 39 rebounds on the offensive end of the floor overall (39-20 advantage) as they out worked and overwhelmed the Demons.

Hicks did most of his damage in the contest in the first quarter, netting 11 of his points with four of his baskets coming directly from put backs on offensive boards.

He opened the game with a rebound for a score and a conventional three-point play and then he followed it up with three other scores and finished the period going 3-of-3 from the foul line.

When Hicks hit his first shot of the second quarter on an assist from Fowler, Hardin County led 25-1.

Dongola didn't get its first field goal until the 7:17 mark of the second quarter as senior Jordan Hatton hit on a shot in the paint.

Sophomore Nathan Williams hit a 3-point shot in the second quarter for the Demons and Treat added a pair of buckets in the frame as they finally got something going on offense.

The Cougars, however, were in no danger on this night as they maintained control.

Cullum added a couple of late baskets as he scored on a steal and fast break lay in as the Cougars closed out the half leading 37-13.

Coach Lane was looking for his team to finally put four quarters of successful basketball together in one game and the third quarter might have been their best eight minute stretch and effort of the season.

Hardin County, as if the outcome was in doubt, put the hammer down in the third quarter.

The Cougars pounced on Dongola, forcing 10-turnovers while converting all of them into points.

Seven times in the stanza Hardin County converted transition points with five of the scores coming from Winters.

He was credited with 11-steals on the night to go with his seven assists, just three assists shy of a triple-double.

Cullum was part of the fast break fun, scoring nine-points with four scores and a converted three-point play on a fast break.

When sophomore Jaron Austin took an assist from Winters after yet another steal, and converted in transition, the Cougars completed the third quarter shutout as they led 66-13.

“We told them (at halftime) don't let up and don't start playing sloppy. It wasn't a fact that we wanted to beat them that bad, but that (intensity) has been our problem this year. Before tonight, maybe the Crittenden County game and for three quarters against Carrier Mills,” said Coach Lane. “Tonight was probably the most complete we have played, even though it was a blowout. We've been watching shots, we've been watching basketball games instead of playing them. Maybe we got through to them this past week?”

Sophomore Isaiah Bridgewaters got in on the action in the fourth quarter, hitting for five-points on a 3-pointer and later a drive down the baseline.

His bomb from the right wing with 4:10 remaining gave Hardin County its largest lead of the game at 77-16.

Coach Lane went to his bench often in the contest as the reserves closed out the game.

The Cougars hit exactly half of their field goals on the night (33-of-66) but if they had a flaw it was the 3-point arc as they converted just 2-of-17.

But the good news is most of those missed 20-footers turned into offensive rebounds and points.

Coach Lane can be happy with the way his squad handled the ball, committing just one turnover through three quarters of play, with six late turnovers from the reserves adding up to seven overall.

Dongola, when they weren't turning the ball over, were just 7-of-29 overall from the floor.

Both teams spring back into action on Friday night as Hardin County will travel to Thompsonville for a Greater Egyptian Conference contest against the Tigers while Dongola will play host to Joppa in South Egyptian Conference action.

“We are young, we have no varsity experience coming back from last year. All of the kids coming back from last year never got any time on the floor,” said Coach Sanders. “We are taking our lumps but the freshmen are looking okay but we have to keep working.”

Hardin County
Hardin County (81) – Hudson 3 0 3-4 9, Shaw 2 1 0-0 7, Winters 8 0 0-0 16, Cullum 7 0 2-3 16, Hicks 5 0 4-6 14, Austin 1 0 0-2 2, Bridgewaters 1 1 0-0 5, Smock 0 0 2-2 2, Cowsert 0 0 0-0 0, Fowler 3 0 2-6 8, Fields 1 0 0-1 2.
2FG-31, 3FG-2, FT-13-24, PF-21.

Dongola (25)
– Hall 1 0 0-2 2, Hogue 0 0 0-0 0, Tarpley 0 0 4-6 4, Thompson 0 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 1 0-0 3, Smith 0 0 0-0 0, Trent 2 0 2-4 6, Zavala 0 0 0-0 0, Freeman 0 0 0-0 0, Warner-Stokes 0 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 1 0-1 3, Hatton 1 0 1-4 3, Thomas 0 1 1-2 4, Owen 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-4, 3FG-3, FT-8-19, PF-16.

Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– None.