In March 5 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Russell County Lakers (22-6) traveled to Cumberland County High School in Burkesville Friday night looking for back-to-back 16th district championships but ran into a determined Cumberland County Panther basketball team on its home floor that sent them home with a 57-41 loss.
Cumberland County hit early and often, sprinting out to a 16-7 first quarter lead that took the wind out of the large crowd of Laker supporters that made the trek to Burkesville.
Russell County rebounded in the second quarter to find themselves down just two, 24-22, at halftime.
When play resumed in the third quarter the Panthers extended their lead and led by nine points going into the game's final quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Cumberland County extend their lead on their home floor even further against the faltering Lakers, who ended up defeated by 16 points.
"They were the team who wanted to win it tonight," said Laker head coach Willie Feldhaus. "It was very apparent."
Feldhaus said he told his team at halftime that they couldn't afford to play catch-up all night.
"We're not the type of team that can do that," he said. "We got some good looks and we were 0 for 11 from three."
He said he told his team all season long that if they didn't shoot the ball well, they were a very vulnerable team.
"But I still think we had enough shots inside when it was still a ballgame that we didn't finish and that was pretty much the difference," he said.
Russell County shot just 36 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times in the game.
Laker junior Robbie Bell was the lone Laker in double figures with 11 points. He also had a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.
Cumberland County shot an impressive 53 percent from the field and were led in scoring Cameron Stalcup with 17 points. Two other Panthers, Kurtis Claywell and Tyler Riley, were in double figures as well.
Laker juniors Zach Carney and Bryson McFall both had seven points apiece while Adam Justice and Bryon Ellis both scored six points. Lucas Justice and Jordan Best also scored two apiece for the Lakers.
Bell, McFall and Ellis were selected to the All-District team while two Lady Lakers, LeeAnn Grider and Lindsay Ramage, were selected to the Girls' All-District team for their efforts.
The runner-up Lakers still move on to the 4th region basketball tournament on Saturday at Western
Kentucky University's E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green and will face the 4th region's top team in the 25-4 Warren Central Dragons at 6:30 p.m.
"It is a long season," Feldhaus said. "We've played a lot of ballgames up to this point and had some disappointing losses before so we just have to regroup.
"When you're involved in athletics you have to have a short memory," he said. "You've got to draw positive thoughts instead of the negative."
He said the week of practice leading up to the Warren Central game was a chance for improvement for his team and he said he let them know that in the locker room after the Cumberland County loss.
Region admission is $6 at the gate with advance tickets on sale in the high school's front office for $5. Parking at E.A. Diddle Arena is $8.
Also after the title game, the boy's varsity cheerleaders were selected as the top cheer squad in the 16th district and the co-ed Laker cheerleaders also received first place district honors. Four cheerleaders, Shawn Wright, Chase Carnes, Kaitlin Blakey and Whitney Grider, were named to the All-District Cheer squad.
In other 4th region action on Saturday, Cumberland County will play Bowling Green at noon, then by Allen County-Scottsville will play Russellville at 1:30 p.m. Following the Russell County-Warren Central game, Franklin-Simpson and Barren County is slated to tip off around 8 p.m.
The 4th region semifinals will be Monday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. and the 4th Region championship game will be the following night, Tuesday, March 10, at 6 p.m. at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.