Cougar JV boys win third straight WHC tourney title
No two teams have been more dominate in Western Highlands Conference junior varsity boys basketball than Mountain Heritage and Hendersonville. The Cougars and the Bearcats met for the league tournament championship for the third straight season in action at Mitchell High last week.
As it had been during the regular season, the Cougars and the Bearcats made their way through the eight team field with exceptional play on both ends of the court, facing each other in Friday’s finals as the #1 and #2 seeds.
Hendersonville came out on fire and took a 7-0 lead before the Cougars scored their first points on a basket by Brennan Hockaday at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter. Hockaday added another bucket and a free throw to score all Heritage points in the opening stanza as Hendersonville led 13-5.
Colton Garland sparked a Cougar comeback with a three pointer and an old fashioned 3 point play at the beginning of the 2nd quarter to cut the lead to 13-11 Gray McCurry added another three to give Heritage its first lead of the game at 14-13.
The game swung back and forth until Heritage took the lead for good at 20-19 on a Bryson Cooper layup. A Job Kennedy layup and two free throws from Nick Chandler helped the Cougars close out the quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 24-19 at the half.
Both teams traded baskets and scored 11 points each in the 3rd quarter to keep the game tight. Jared Sellers scored four points for Heritage in the third to keep the Cougars in front by five, 40-35 heading into the final seven minutes of play.
The 4th quarter started out as a defensive struggle. At the 3:14 mark Hendersonville hit a pair of free throws to make it a one possession game at 41-38.
A 5-2 run by the Cougars pushed the lead up to 46-40 at the 2:00 minute mark and the Cougars final seven minutes of the season was highlighted by a Job Kennedy put back of a missed free throw and 10 of 13 shooting at the free throw line, including a perfect 4 of 4 from Gray McCurry.
An Ethan Ray free toss pushed the Heritage lead the final margin of ten points as the Cougars celebrated another WHC regular season and tournament championship under Coach Ken McCurry.
Scoring for the Cougars in the title contest looked like this: Brennan Hockaday 12 points, Gray McCurry 10, Job Kennedy 10, Colton Garland 8, Jared Sellers 6, Bryson Cooper 4, Nick Chandler 2 and Ethan Ray 1.
Job Kennedy and Jared Sellers paced the team on the glass with 9 and 8 rebounds respectively while Gray McCurry led the team in assist(6) and steals (3) and Jared Sellers contributed 4 blocked shots on the defensive end of the court in the championship game.
The#1 seed Cougars had no trouble with #8 seed Thomas Jefferson in the tournament’s opening round as Heritage scored the game’s first 18 points and were never challenged in a 53-18 victory.
The inside play of Brennan Hockaday (7pts), Job Kennedy (5pts) and Jared Sellers (4pts) accounted for 16 of the 18 points in the opening stanza.
Five different Cougars scored buckets in the 2nd quarter, led by a three pointer from Gray McCurry as Heritage built a 21-0 lead before Thomas Jefferson was able to draw iron as the Cougars led 29-2 at the intermission.
Andrew Hall and Bryson Cooper led the charge in the third quarter as the benches emptied and the lead grew to 45-10.
Luke Antinori started the scoring and Daniel Sheperd ended it in the 4th, as the Cougars cruised to a 35 point win.
Brennan Hockaday paced the team with 13 points with Job Kennedy pitching in 9 and Gray McCurry and
Jared Sellers adding 8 apiece. Job Kennedy grabbed five of the teams 28 rebounds while Luke Antinori and Jared Sellers pulled down four boards each in a dominating performance by the Cougars on the glass.
The Cougars had 26 steals against the Gryphons, led by Nick Chandler and Jared Sellers with 5 each while Gray McCurry led the team with 4 assists and Jared Sellers topped the Cougars with three of the team’s seven blocked shots.
The team avenged its only league loss of the season to Avery County in the tournaments semi-final round.
In a very defensive-minded first quarter the Cougars held the Vikings to three total points while depending on the inside play of Job Kennedy (4 points) and Brennan Hockaday (2 points). The outside scoring was provided by Gray McCurry who hit a floater and a three pointer for 5 points as Heritage led 11-3 after one.
The Cougars defensive intensity was turned up even more in the 2nd quarter as Avery was held to only a couple of baskets from the floor while Heritage kept up the pressure as Job Kennedy had 4 more points and Ethan Ray and Gray McCurry each hit a trey
Five different Heritage players scored for Heritage in the second quarter as Bryson Cooper and Colton Garland were perfect from the line and the Cougars led 27-8 at halftime.
After such a good half, Heritage came out a little flat and with four players saddled with 3 fouls each Coach McCurry used a lot of players. Avery outscored MHHS 14-7 to start the second half to cut the lead to back to a dozen. Job Kennedy and Brennan Hockaday each scored a bucket and Gray McCurry hit another three to scratch for the Cougars in the third.
In the final seven minute session Gray McCurry hit his 4th trey of the game (one in each quarter) to start the quarter and later converted an old fashioned 3 point play to put the game out of the Viking’s reach. McCurry and Kennedy each had 8 points in the 4th quarter the pace the Cougars. Heritage was 10 of 13 from the line in the fourth to push the final score to 55-36 in what Coach McCurry called “possibly the Cougars best performance of the season.”
Gray McCurry and Job Kennedy had outstanding performances shooting the basketball, finishing with 19 and 18 points respectively to lead the Cougars while Kennedy also led in rebounding with 13 and McCurry led the team in assists with 4.
The Cougars finished off a near perfect season by winning 20 of their final 21 contest to finish 21-4 overall in their 2012-2013 campaign.
The Lady Cougar JV made an early exit from the tournament when they dropped a decision to #2 seed Hendersonville in their first round game.
MHHS Individual Stats –WHC Tournament
Game 1 vs Thomas Jefferson
Scoring--Brennan Hockaday 13-Job Kennedy 9-Gray McCurry 8-Jared Sellers 8-Luke Antinori 4-Colton Garland 4-Andrew Hall 3-Bryson Cooper 2-Daniel Sheperd 2
Rebounding--Job Kennedy 5-Luke Antinori 4-Jared Sellers 4-Bryson Cooper 3-Brennan Hockaday 3-Colton Garland 3-Daniel Sheperd 3-Gray McCurry 2-Ethan Ray 1
Steals--Nick Chandler 5-Jared Sellers 5-Brennan Hockaday 4-Gray McCurry 3-Job Kennedy 3-Luke Antinori 2-Andrew Hall 2-Bryson Cooper 1-Colton Garland 1
Assists--Gray McCurry 4-Ethan Ray 2-Luke Antinori 2-Nick Chandler 2-Brennan Hockaday 2-Joseph McIntosh 1-Andrew Hall 1-Bryson Cooper 1-Colton Garland 1
Blocks--Jared Sellers 3-Joseph McIntosh 1-Bryson Cooper 1-Colton Garland 1-Daniel Sheperd 1
Game 2 vs Avery County
Scoring--Gray McCurry 19-Job Kennedy 18-Brennan Hockady 7-Bryson Cooper 4-Ehtan Ray 3-Jared Sellers 2-Colton Garland 2
Rebounding--Job Kennedy 13-Brennan Hockaday 6-Bryson Cooper 3-Ethan Ray 2-Nick Chandler 2-Jared Sellers 2-Gray McCurry 1-Joseph McIntosh 1-Colton Garland 1
Steals--Gray McCurry 2-Andrew Hall 2-Job Kennedy 2-Bryson Cooper 1-Brennan Hockaday 1
Assists--Gray McCurry 4-Ethan Ray 2-Jared Sellers 2-Job Kennedy 2-Nick Chandler 1-Brennan Hockaday 1
Blocks--Jared Sellers 1-Job Kennedy 1
Championship Game vs Hendersonville
Scoring--Brennan Hockaday 12-Gray McCurry 10-Job Kennedy 10-Colton Garland 8-Jared Sellers 6-Bryson Cooper 4-Nick Chandler 2-Ethan Ray 1
Rebounding--Job Kennedy 9-Jared Sellers 8-Brennan Hockaday 5-Gray McCurry 4-bryson Cooper 3-Ethan Ray 1-Andrew Hall 1-Nick Chandler 1-Colton Garland 1
Steals--Gray McCurry 3-Ethan Ray 1-Nick Chandler 1-Brennan Hockaday 1-Colton Garland 1-Job Kennedy 1
Assists--Gray McCurry 6-Ehtan Ray 3-Brennan Hockaday 3
Blocks--Jared Sellers 4-Bryson Cooper 2-Job Kennedy 2
By David Grindstaff