REGIONAL CHAMPS, L-R: Kaitlyn Dutton, Alidia Stephens, Coach Brett Oxford, Walker Bebout, Drew Vaughn, Landon Holbrook, Levi Snyder, Aiden Borum, Morgan Fricker, Nick Austin, Assistant Coach Brian Banks, Alexys Dutton, Keisha Phillips. Middle row: Nyla Sheftic, Emery Stricklin, Christian Winters, Brandon Dutton, Trafton Stallings, Nate Massie, Landon Fricker, Bryden Banks, Zac Watson, Paisley Patton, Savannah Winters. Front row: Leah Carr, Kembra Brown, Gracyn Smith, Brook Mabrey, and Summer Vinyard — Greta Smith Photo
Cougars lost by one point in first round at SIJHSAA State Tournament
The Hardin County Jr. High Basketball team had a truly successful 2019-2020 season. Among many other titles, the team earned the title of Regional Champs and advanced to State where they played New Simpson Hill last Saturday at Rend Lake College. The game was a nail biter ending with a score of 24-23 allowing New Simpson Hill to advance to the next round.
The Cougars celebrated an end to a great season with pizza at Mackies after the game.
“I take pride when my teams play good defense, boxes out, and show over all hustle, and you boys did all year,” said Coach Brett Oxford in a message to his team on Facebook. “You have nothing to hang your head for. In twenty plus years we’ve made it to the state tournament twice – 2018 and this year. It’s quite the accomplishment you should be proud of.”
Original story published 2-6-20
Cougars are SIJHSAA Regional Champions; Will compete in first round at State Saturday
By Heather Rash
Hardin County School hosted the SIJHSAA Regionals this year at Oxford Gymnasium. The Jr. High Cougars played their first game in the regionals against the Carrier Mills Wildcats on Thursday, January 30. The Cougars won, bumping their season record to 21 wins and only two losses. This secured their spot to compete in the regional championship game on Saturday, February 1 at 1:00 p.m. where they took on the Crab Orchard Trojans. The energy level in Oxford Gymnasium for the championship game was intense and the gym was filled with fans for both the Cougars and the Trojans. Both teams went into the ball game full-on. Hardin County managed to keep the lead through the whole game but the Trojans almost made a comeback a couple of times, with around five points separating the two teams for much of the game. The Cougars’ tight defense, steals and rebounds helped them clinch the win over the Trojans with a score of 45 – 35 and a season record of 22 wins and 2 losses.
“I don’t believe these boys completely understand how special they are and this year has been,” said Coach Brett Oxford. “There will be a banner that’ll hang in our gym forever that says Gallatin County Invitational Tournament Champs, Adams School Tip Off Classic Champs, Little GEC Champs, Regional Champs, and the record of 22-2. Their kids and grandkids will ask about that team and they’ll be able to tell them that they were apart of it. Really cool. So proud to be a part of that journey.”
The boys, coaches and families celebrated as the trophy was presented and each player got to cut a part of the net off the goal they became champions on. A celebration parade followed as the basketball team and cheerleaders were escorted through the county by a fire truck and local police. They were followed by an envoy of proud parents, grandparents and many other fans.
The Cougars will play New Simpson Hill at State Saturday, February 8, 5 p.m. at Rend Lake College.