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Cougars repeat as district champs, starting corps advance in Regionals

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Munford Andrea Bell pass

Munford senior guard David Hunter had to take over point guard duties from Holmes as the Wolves focused their defense on Holmes.

Munford senior guard David Hunter had to take over point guard duties from Holmes as the Wolves focused their defense on Holmes.

Munford sophomore guard Reggie Holmes calls out a play during an offensive set against Cordova Saturday night during the Cougars' 45-43 win to advance in the Region 7-3A Tournament.

Munford sophomore guard Reggie Holmes calls out a play during an offensive set against Cordova Saturday night during the Cougars’ 45-43 win to advance in the Region 7-3A Tournament.

Munford Tolton Jumper

It’s clear why so many experts equated the graduation of Jonathan Stark with the pending demise of the Munford Cougars for the 2013-14 season.
Stark led the Cougars to the District 13-3A Tournament title and the Region 7-3A Semifinals before heading to Tulane University where he is currently averaging 14 points a game.
Entering Saturday night’s Region 7-3A Quarterfinal game in the Munford Gymnasium against the Cordova Wolves, the Munford Cougars took the court still with a point to prove.
“We play with a chip on our shoulder,” Munford senior guard David Hunter acknowledged. “Everybody says, ‘Jonathan, Jonathan and Jonathan.’ When Dyer County beat us at their place in the regular season, that’s all they talked about was how we missed Jonathan. So we’ve had a point to prove all year. We miss him but we can play too.”
The Cougars entered the Cordova contest at the 2014 District 13-3A Tournament champs beating Dyer County. Only the No. 4 seeded Wolves stood in Munford’s way of reaching the Region Semifinals for the second straight year.
Butch Hopkins’ Cougars were able to solve Cordova’s defensive scheme to box in sophomore guard Reggie Holmes to prevail 45-43.
“It feels good to be back to this point,” Munford forward Kylon Hall said. “It took hard work and determination.”
The work didn’t appear to be too hard in the opening minutes of the game with the Cougars jumping out to a 10-2 advantage. All four of Holmes’ teammates scored with Juane Tolton hitting a three-pointer, Hall added three points, Andrea’ Bell hitting a layup and Hunter adding a put-back bucket.
When Bell powered a layup to the rim early in the second quarter, the Cougars were ahead 12-2. The Wolves finally snapped out of their offensive funk with a 9-2 run.
Cordova started to guard Holmes with two players when Munford took the ball out of bounds. Hunter took over the duties of bringing the ball upcourt. With two players behind him, Hunter dribbled to the elbow and dropped off a jumper to make the score 16-11.
Both teams scored 5 points a piece giving Munford a 21-16 halftime advantage. The Cougar defense stepped up in the third quarter holding Cordova to 6 points.
Meanwhile the Cougars scored 9 points in the quarter to build a 30-22 lead heading into the fourth. Munford maintain that advantage for the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter leading 40-32.
The Wolves used pressure defense and fouls to go on a 9-3 run to make the score 43-41 with 9.9 seconds remaining. Cordova hoped one more foul would do the trick sending Hunter to the line.
“Teamwork, it took all five of us,” Hunter said. “No one person scores 20 points a night. We all distribute the ball between all five of us. We don’t need just one person, we need five.”
Hunter did his part by making both free throws to make the score 45-41. The Wolves scored one more bucket but time ran out and the Cougars advanced to play Arlington in the Regional Semifinals in Bolton Tuesday night.
While Cordova’s season came to an end, the Cougars added another win to a season surprising some experts. Hall said beating Dyer County for the district title has inspired the Cougars to another level.
“It got us hype for the rest of the season,” he said. “It’s going to keep us going. It’s going to take hard work to continue. We have to hit it hard in practice and in the gym down the stretch.”
Hunter said it will also take the trademark of the 2014 Cougars, teamwork to keep advancing like the Cordova game.
“They take out Reggie, we still have to play to win,” he concluded. “We had to find a way. Andrea’ handled the ball. We tried to get it inside because they were locking down the guards. We got away with one tonight.”

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