In Jan. 29 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Russell County Lakers fell to district rival Cumberland County on Monday night in Laker Gym, 57-56, putting their season record at 16-2 and giving them their first loss to a team from this state.
“The team that had the most emotion (Monday night) won the game,” said Coach Willie Feldhaus.
He said Cumberland County, especially in the second half, played with the most energy.
“I’m not saying our kids didn’t want it but you could tell that they were playing at a different level than we were,” he said. “That was definitely the difference in the game.”
The Lakers held on to a five-point halftime lead, but the Panthers came out hot in the second half and outscored Russell County 16-12 in the third quarter.
Cumberland County outscored the Lakers in the paint 36-22 for the game.
The Lakers also failed to get any bench points while the Panthers scored 11 total bench points.
The game’s final quarter saw the Laker lead dwindle even more, despite big shots from senior Bryon Ellis and junior Zach Carney.
Panther Kurtis Claywell made a tough basket with eight seconds left which gave Cumberland the one-point advantage they needed to get the win.
Laker Bryson McFall had 16 points, Zach Carney had 14, Robbie Bell scored 13, Bryon Ellis had eight and Lucas Justice tallied five points.
In the locker room after the game, Feldhaus said he told his team that a loss doesn’t ruin the season.
“It makes you feel bad when you feel like you’re being outworked,” he said. “But how you respond to a loss is the most important thing.”
Feldhaus said that his team would, more than likely, lose again this season but that his players and staff are going to respond to the defeat in a positive way.
“Defense is what is frustrating at this point,” he said. He pointed out that his team wasn’t defending like they were earlier this season.
“They got too many shots in the paint on us, especially in the second half,” he said.
“That’s something we need to correct and get back to doing like we were earlier in the year.