By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Defense brought the Munford Cougars to last Thursday night’s championship game of the William L. Osteen Christmas Tournament sponsored by Dagen’s Living Water Bookstore.
The Cougars held both Soulsville and Catholic under 40 points en route to the title game against the Middleton Tigers in the William Osteen Gymnasium.
The Tigers managed to score 47 points in the championship. And that total was good enough for Middleton to capture the title 47-29.
“The first two games were two of the best games we’ve played all year,” Munford Head Coach Ryan Ross said. “Especially last night against Catholic, that might have been the most complete game we’ve played.
“Tonight we played really well the first quarter,” he added. “Then we started to get frustrated offensively. And when we did that we let our defense suffer. And we can’t do that no matter what is happening on the offensive end. We have to keep guarding. They’re very talented, tough and they get into you very deep.”
The Cougars defeated Memphis Catholic 40-27 on Dec. 21 in the semifinal round. Munford featured a balanced attack offensively with Deon Banks, Kyree Cunningham, James Farrow, Javier Wherry and Montel Miller all scoring.
Kelan Ivy led the Cougars with 13 points against the Chargers. On the other side of the bracket, Middleton marched to the title game with victories over Trezevant and Ridgeway.
The Tigers jumped out 6-0 behind a three-pointer by John Gray and bucket by Tylandrius Parks. The Cougars got on the scoreboard with a foul shot by Ivy.
Munford’s first field goal was a triple by Landon Winter to make the score 8-4. The score was 10-5 in favor of Middleton at the end of the quarter.
The Cougars only scored 3 points in the second quarter. Meanwhile the Tigers tallied 16 points in the second quarter.
“I do think we’re heading into the right direction,” Ross said. “Especially the past two weeks., we’re really starting to play well and figure this thing out. Our young kids are really starting to play well. James Farrow had an incredible week.
Landon Winter had a great week. Kyree Cunningham had a good week. All those guys are starting to figure it out a little bit which is going to help us down the road.”
The Tigers only allowed a Winter three-pointer in the second quarter. Middleton received buckets from Parks, Maurius Reaves and Montrez Jones.
The Tigers’ halftime lead of 26-8 was maintained throughout the third quarter behind contributions from Leqon Perry and Jones working in the post. Another Jones layup made the score 35-12.
Munford responded with a 8-0 run sparked by a Miller three-pointer.
Farrow added a three-point play to make the score 35-18. Miller’s basket made the score 35-20. Jones ended the Cougars’ run with a layup with three defenders near him.
Middleton led 37-20 entering the final quarter of the 2016 William Osteen Christmas Tournament. The Tigers outscored Munford 10-9 in the fourth quarter.
Jones was named to the All-Tournament Team for the Tigers and Parks was honored as MVP. Ivy took home All-Tournament honors for the Cougars.
“Our seniors had a good week as well,” Ross concluded. “Kelan Ivy leads us along with Deon Banks and Montrel Miller. The big thing coming out of this week, we have to continue to go in the right direction. We get a little break for a couple of days to rejuvenate.”