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By: Corey Stott
QUEEN CITY, Mo.- 2/27/21- It didn’t take long to see why the Northeast Bearcats (Cairo) (24- 1) were the top seed in Class 2, District 6. After Scotland County (12-14) got off to an early and surprising 4-0 lead, the Bearcats quickly took over the game. At the 6:15 mark, 6’0 junior guard Jack Prewett hit a 3-pointer and then on the next Tiger possession got a steal and was fouled on the run-out. He hit both free throws and Cairo was up 5-4. They never looked back.
“They’re pretty aggressive defensively,” Coach Jeremy Austin said. “They do a pretty good job of switching up their man and 1-3-1 zone. They pressed us pretty well and forced us to play their speed when we really didn’t want to go quite that fast.”
Cairo went on a 14-2 run on the Tigers and led 14-6 with 3:22 to play in the first quarter. The Bearcats led the Tigers 17-8 at the end of the period.
The second quarter saw Cairo’s size and athleticism causing huge problems for the Tiger backcourt, as they pushed the offense nearly to half court and took away the ability of the Scotland County guards to see the back door cuts. The Bearcats seemed to get to every loose ball and the combination of turnovers and run-outs spelled doom for the Tigers. Scotland County went 5:59 without a score. The Bearcats outscored Scotland County 21-9 in the second quarter and led 38-17 at halftime.
The Tiger defense was powerless to stop the balanced offensive attack of Cairo in the second half. The offense could never find an answer to the relentless defensive pressure. The result was Cairo outscoring the Tigers 18-6 in the third quarter for a 56-23 lead. With the outcome pretty well decided, both benches played extensively in the final period, and the Bearcats took the district title with an impressive 60-33 win.
When asked what the plan was against the potent Bearcat team, Austin said it was basically a case of picking your poison. “We thought we would try to slow them down inside. I think we had a little bit of success there early. Not overall, obviously. The problem was they hit outside shots too. When you’re hitting outside shots and interior shots and your transition defense is as good as what they are- they were too much for us right now.”
Carson Harrison led all scorers with 18 points. Hunter Carter scored 4, Trayton Buckallew and Corbyn Spurgeon scored 3 apiece, Owen Triplett and Kabe Hamlin each had 2 points and Xavier Lucas had 1 point. For the Bearcats, Prewett scored 13 points, Isaac Brockman 12 points and Bryce Taylor 11 points.
With the season ending, the Tigers will lose two seniors in Carson Harrison and Hunter Carter. Asked for his thoughts on those two young men, Austin had high praise. “Those two guys have done everything I’ve asked since I’ve had the opportunity to come start working with these guys. I’m really proud of both of them.”
He added that he feels like this young team has really developed since the start of the season. “It’s pretty much night and day. We’ve gotten a lot smarter in game situations. This year, the close ballgames, we learned from them, we kept picking things up. In only expect bigger things in the future here. We’ve got a great core of kids coming back next year. It’ll be hard to replace Hunter and Carson, but we’ve got guys that are itching for the opportunity to try.”