By Thomas Sellers Jr.
To be a champion in high school basketball, a team must play like a champion come February.
With Friday night marking the first day in the second month, the Munford Cougars didn’t waste a second jumping out to a 8-0 lead over their rivals Brighton.
Then the Cardinals got on the board setting up a Munford avalanche. Cougar senior guard Kameron Foster gathered up the baskeball off the Munford Gymnasium floor leading to a fast break.
Foster passed the ball to his teammate Jonathan Stark for a two-handed slammed. Seconds later the Cougars forced another Cardinal miscue leading to a Kylon Hall dunk over a defender making the score 12-2.
Munford proceeded to outscore Brighton 23-4 in the first quarter leading to a 65-30 victory over their District 13-3A foe.
“We got to play hard,” Foster said. “We had to go out there and get into them — get things started. The last time we eased off and kind of underestimated them. We had to go out there and finish because we can’t underestimate any team. We’re trying to make it somewhere.”
That somewhere the Cougars want to be is atop the district standings, a top seed in Regionals and a participant in Sub-State.
The February journey started against the Cardinals. After Brighton made the score 8-2, the Cougars wanted to avoid a repeat of their trip to the Cardinals’ gymnasium earlier in the season.
When the Cougars visited Brighton, the young Cardinals hung around for three quarter before losing 69-59.
“It’s time to play,” Foster thought after Brighton made the score 8-2. “We had to get into them. I felt like I had to do something for my team and get us started. I know when I play hard everybody else is going to play hard. So I went out there and did what I had to do for my team.”
Stark and Hall slammed down two baskets that seemed to take the air out of the Cardinals’ cells. Stark added to the Cougar advantage with a pair of free throws and a three-pointer.
Then it was Foster to provide the knockout blow scoring Munford’s next six points to make the score 23-4. First Foster drove into the lane and hit a floater over several Cardinals.
The next trip down the court, Foster lined up a three-pointer that found nothing but net. Then the senior guard concluded the first quarter with a free throw making the score 23-4.
The Cardinals were more productive on the offensive end in the second quarter scoring 8 points. Cougars like Andre Bell and Antonio Moore paced Munford with buckets to make the score 37-12 at the break.
Brighton put up another 8 spot in the third quarter sparked by Jericho Williams. Munford tallied 17 points with Stark hitting a three-pointer. His fellow senior Anton Smith made the score 52-16 with a triple of his own.
Munford entered the fourth quarter ahead 54-20. In the final period, Cougar senior forward D’Marius Exum benefited from the passing of freshman guard Reggie Holmes.
The young guard drove to the rack twice dishing off passes to Exum as he exploded to the rim. Exum’s two layups helped Munford post a 65-30 win.
With the District 13-3A Tournament around the corner, Foster said the seniors are helping the Cougars focus on their goals. Foster and teammate Stark both reached the Regional Semifinals twice as Cardinals.
Last season, the duo suffered a heartbreaking defeat to the Bartlett Panthers losing on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. Foster said that feeling motivates him and he will pass that lesson on to his Cougar teammates.
“We can make something happen,” he concluded. “We have the potential to make it all the way. We can win district. We can make it to Regionals and even Sub-State. I want to go farther than (Regional Semifinals). I want to see us in Sub-State.”