By Malcolm Butler
After a pair of lopsided wins over Calvin and Lincoln Prep in the first two rounds of the 2022 Neill Killgore Memorial Tournament, the Cedar Creek Lady Cougars were up against Class 5A Haughton in the championship game.
And they didn’t flinch.
Trailing by a point entering the fourth quarter, the Lady Cougars (8-2) outscored Haughton (10-3) 19-6 over the final eight minutes to take a 43-31 victory and the championship trophy of the home event at the Brickhouse.
Head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg pointed to his team’s consistent effort for 32 minutes.
“We really didn’t do much differently in the fourth quarter,” he said. “We kept going and they hit a spurt where I think we just kind of broke them. We played our game and some shots fell for us in the fourth quarter. We just kept playing and playing. We played four quarters and I think the home crowd helped us out.
“We have been asking the girls to play hard for four quarters. That was the first time we put a complete game together and played well for four quarters. We tell them not to worry about the scoreboard, just played hard for all four quarters and we did that. Our kids played with great energy and effort. We played tough.”
Haughton jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter before Allie Furr hit a three-pointer and then ended the quarter with a transition layup off a steal at the buzzer to close the deficit to 13-9. The Creek defense then locked down Haughton over the next three quarters, limiting the Bucs to only six points in the second, third and fourth quarters.
“We had a great rebounding game,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We needed that against them because of their size. We competed. Our game plan was to control No. 10 inside … to play in front and behind her. We knew where their shooters were. We were able to get some run outs in the second half … some transition points. We kept running it and got some easy ones. Allie did a great job and found some teammates for some easy ones.”
Five different Lady Cougars scored in the decisive fourth quarter, including six from Lillian Soto and a big three-pointer by Olivia Underwood.
Furr led Creek with 13 points and 10 steals while Soto added 12 points and nine rebounds. Lizzie McAdams scored eight points and grabbed nine boards while Underwood added six boards from her guard position.
Vandenlangenberg said he wasn’t surprised by his team’s 8-2 start to the season.
“I’m not surprised at the record,” he said. “I am surprised at our level of play. We are playing really, really well at this point. I knew we had a good team; a scrappy team. I think we are playing with a lot of confidence.”
Quitman 45, Cougars 27
Connor Norris led Cedar Creek with 10 points but the Cougars managed only 12 points over the final three quarters of play and fell to Quitman 45-27 in the third place game of the 2022 Neill Killgore Memorial Invitational Saturday afternoon.
Norris scored eight points in the opening quarter as the Cougars built a 15-8 lead through the first six minutes of the contest before the Wolverines fought back. Creek led 15-14 at the end of the first quarter.
John Abram Earle hit a three-pointer with 6:40 to play in the second quarter to give the Cougars an 18-14 lead but it would be the only points by Cedar Creek in the 8-minute period as Quitman used a 15-0 run to end the half and lead 29-18 at halftime.
The Cougars cut the deficit to 34-25 at the end of the third quarter as Jack Echols scored four points in the period. But once again the Cougars struggled offensively in the fourth quarter, scoring just two points over the final eight minutes as Quitman picked up the win.
Both the Cougars and the Lady Cougars will travel to face Sterlington tonight at 6 p.m.