Cougars explode in fourth quarter to down OCS

Carter Hill scored a game-high 21 points to lead Creek to a 66-51 win over OCS Friday night. (Photo by Darrell James)

By Malcolm Butler

Cedar Creek scored 31 points in the fourth quarter to record a 66-51 come-from-behind win over Ouachita Christian Friday night at the Brickhouse.

Trailing 39-35 entering the final stanza, the Cougars (8-9, 1-1) outscored the Eagles 31-12 over the final eight minutes of play to pull off an important District 2-1A win over their rivals.

“We had to keep shooting the ball even though we had been struggling the whole game,” said head coach Lance Waldron. “We tried to get people in different spots to get some shots to see if we could find somebody to get a rhythm. We couldn’t buy a basket and OCS was on fire for a little while. I felt like we just needed to keep shooting.

“We have confidence in the guys. We kept telling them we believed in them. We have been doing a lot of shooting in practice. We felt confident it would eventually go our way.”

Connor Norris opened the game with a three-pointer on Creek’s first possession as the Cougars jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. However, OCS (2-8, 0-1) connected on four first quarter three-pointers and took a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter as the Cougars struggled offensively early in the contest.

“I have been hearing since I got here about circling OCS on the calendar,” said Waldron. “We have been working hard getting ready for this game. I think we wanted it a little too much early. I think the guys were a little too excited. We looked fatigued which can happen when you have such an adrenaline rush. I think that may have had something to do with our shots not falling early. It happens. This was an exciting environment.”

OCS led 19-12 early in the second quarter when Davis Walsworth capped a 6-0 Cedar Creek run with a three-pointers, closing the gap to 19-18 with 5:40 remaining in the first half. A second Norris trifecta tied the game at 21-21 as the two teams continued to battle back and forth.

OCS led 27-23 at halftime.

The game remained close in the third quarter as the Cougars switched to a full-court press, causing the Eagles some trouble. Brian Osborne’s conventional three-point play with 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter brought the Cougars to within 39-35.

“We changed up our defense about three times in the game,” said Waldron. “We finally found something that they were uncomfortable with. They started coughing it up. I think that was a big difference in the game. We forced a lot of turnovers.”

Trailing 41-35 early in the final quarter, Cedar Creek erupted for a 15-0 run. Jack Echols drained a three-pointer to start the run while Carter Hill scored two interior buckets and Walsworth drained a three-pointer. Another Echols three-pointer followed by a Walsworth layup capped the run as the Cougars led 50-41 with 5 minutes to play.

After OCS closed the score to 50-47 with 4:11 to play, Walsworth banked home a floater and Connor Johnson then scored six straight points, including going 4-of-4 at the free throw line, to once again push the Cougars lead to double figures at 58-47. A Norris three-pointer with 1:21 to play was the final nail in the coffin.

Waldron praised the efforts on the glass of Norris and Osborne.

“Connor Norris and Brian Osborne really did a great job on the boards against this team,” said Waldron. “OCS has a lot of athletes and they have a lot of size. For Brian and Connor to get in there and rebound the way they did, I was very proud of them.”

Hill led Creek with 21 points while Walsworth added 15 and Norris had nine.