The Norris City-Omaha-Enfield Fighting Cardinal basketball team returned to action Saturday night for the first time since the Eldorado Holiday Tournament when they headed to McLeansboro to take on the Hamilton County Foxes.
First quarter action started out very slow on the offensive end for both teams but the Fighting Cardinals were able to cling to a 7-4 advantage following the first 8:00 of play. The Fighting Cardinals found this three point lead shrink to just two points as halftime arrived when the Foxes went on their own 10-9 run in the second quarter of play.
Once intermission was over, the Fighting Cardinals appeared to have made the necessary adjustments to take control of the game as they went on to outscore Hamilton County 13-8 in the third quarter to claim the 29-22 lead with one quarter of play remaining. It appeared the Fighting Cardinals had the game in the bag but a late rally by the Foxes made things very interesting. With less than one minute to play in the final stanza, Hamilton County had erased an 11 points NCOE lead and only trailed by one point. At this time, Ty Money connected on a three pointer from the quarter to help the Fighting Cardinals stretch their lead back out to four points. The game would sway back and forth for the remainder of time but NCOE would find Brandon Skaggs connecting for two at the charity stripe to enable the Fighting Cardinals to hold on to claim the 40-37 win.
CJ Richardson was the top scorer for the Fighting Cardinals with nine points Trey Simmons followed with seven points, Joe Melton six points, Brandon Skaggs six points, Ty Money five points, Jack Riggs four points, and Colton O’Neal three points.
The Junior Varsity team started off in a positive way on the offensive end of the floor and topped their opponent 10-7 in the first quarter of play. The scoring definitely slowed down in the second quarter for both teams while the defense picked up but as halftime arrived the Fighting Cardinals would top the Foxes 5-4 to extend their lead to four points, 15-11.
NCOE hit the floor in the third quarter and appeared to have their offense clicking when they went on an 11-6 run. Now leading 26-17, all the Fighting Cardinals had to do to reassure victory was keep their defense in check. Unfortunately for NCOE, the Foxes came to life in the final frame of action and posted a game high 17 points. This compared to just five for the Fighting Cardinals was all Hamilton County needed to pull off the come from behind victory and hand NCOE the three point loss, 34-31. Nathaniel Wilson led the way with eight points followed by Brendan Frost with seven points, Jacob Richerson six points, Eli Brown four points, Ty Lane four points, and Bryce Jolley two points.
The Freshmen team had a very difficult first half for they were only able to muster two points. This offensive struggle found the Fighting Cardinals facing a 22 point deficit at halftime. NCOE did manage to put things together in the second half as they went on a 20-12 run in the final two quarters of play but the early damage was to much to overcome and they fell by the final score of 36-22.
Jake Rush was the leading scorer for NCOE with eight points. Others scoring were Cole Roberson with five, Will Thompson four, Zayne Smith three, and Gabe Largent two.
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