Coach Jim Tucker and his NCOE Fighting Cardinals ventured to Golconda Tuesday evening to take on the Pope County Pirates in Greater Egyptian Conference play.
Action started out very balanced between the two teams on both ends of the court, but as time would wind down in the first 8:00 of play, the Pirates would manage to grab the early 13-11 lead. This two point advantage would swell to five following the second quarter of action as the NCOE offense was somewhat sluggish and could only manage to add seven more points to their total. This offensive struggle by the Fighting Cardinals would allow the Pirates to head to the locker room with a five point advantage, 23-18.
When play resumed, NCOE would manage to step up their offense just a bit to score 11 points. This, however, was not enough as Pope County would record 15 more points themselves to extend the NCOE deficit to nine points with just one quarter of play left to go. This final stanza would finally find the NCOE offense clicking better than it had the whole game. In fact, they would erupt for 23 fourth quarter points. Unfortunately for the Fighting Cardinals, their defense would not remain as strong as it had throughout the first three quarters (partly due to being saddled with extreme foul trouble) as the Pirates also put forth their best quarter of the contest and scored 21 points. This late run by NCOE did cut into the Pope County lead but they were unable to overcome it as they fell by the final score of 59-52.
Joe Melton and CJ Richardson would lead the scoring for the Fighting Cardinals with 14 and 11, respectively. Others scoring in the game were Ty Money with nine points, Jaden Barton six points, Brandon Skaggs five points, Colton O’Neal five points, and Trey Simmons three points.
The Junior Varsity contest did not start out favorable for NCOE as they quickly fell behind the Pirates 11-3 after one quarter of play. The Fighting Cardinals would regroup in the second quarter on the offensive end to score 12 points and narrow the Pope County lead to just six points at halftime.
Second half action would find the Fighting Cardinals cutting into the Pirate lead a little bit more when they outscored their opponent 10-8 to find themselves only trailing by four points with one quarter remaining. This final frame would find the Pirates making their way to the charity stripe 10 times to just two for the Fighting Cardinals. This free throw advantage (Pope County went to the line 20 times in the game to just four for NCOE) would allow the Pirates to outscore NCOE 9-1 in this final stanza to hand the Fighting Cardinals the 38-26 loss. Bryce Jolley led the way with 10 points followed by Nathaniel Wilson with six points, Ty Lane three, Jacob Richerson three, Eli Brown two, and Jace Johnson two.
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