By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Munford Cougars are no strangers to the Regional Semifinals.
Last week, the Cougars returned to the game they played in last season in Region 7-3A Boys Basketball Tournament. This year Munford took on the Arlington Tigers in the Bolton Gymnasium to some expert’s surprise.
After the graduation of several seniors including current Tulane standout Jonathan Starks, some basketball insiders felt Butch Hopkins’ Munford Cougars would take a step back. But Hopkins blended the talents of seniors Juane Tolton, David Hunter, Kylon Hall and Andrea’ Bell with sophomore guard Reggie Holmes to win the 2014 District 13-3A Tournament championship.
The Cougars picked up a victory over the Cordova Wolves in the Regional Quarterfinals to earn a date with the Tigers. Arlington used a balanced attack with Nathan Hoover, CJ Anderson and KJ Bates all scoring in double figures to win 70-47.
“It got a little too physical for our level of ball handling tonight,” Hopkins noted. “It got a little out of control.
“Andrea’ played a hack of game,” he added. “Kylon played well tonight. Reggie could handle that pressure some. They played tough tonight.”
Bell finished with a game-high 25 points. But the Arlington trio combined for 41 points and Tiger forward Adarius Avery added 9.
The first quarter was close with Munford using a patient offense feeding the ball inside to Bell and Hall. The Cougars led 4-2 when Hall made a layup.
Bell put Munford ahead 6-2 with a fade away jumper. Another Bell jump shot made the score 8-4. Then the Tigers closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run.
Anderson made a steal leading to a layup to make the score 10-8 heading into the second quarter.
After Bell made a post move for a basket to make the score 14-12 in favor of Arlington, the Tiger proceeded with a 10-0 run to build a double-digit lead. Avery slammed down a two points to make the score 24-12. David Hunter ended Munford’s drought with a jumper.
Arlington went on to outscore the Cougars 12-4 the rest of the first half to lead 36-18 at the break. The Tigers matched Munford output the final two quarters to advance to the championship game.
Another winning season came to an for the Cougars.
“We looked it up,” Hopkins said. “This version of Munford High School was formed in the early 1980s. Before the past two years, Munford won two district championship. In the past two years we’ve won two district tournaments and 38 games.
“We have 8 and half months to build,” he concluded. “We were at this point last year and look what we did.”