by Bobby Stapleton, sports
Izard County punched their ticket, this time a Golden Ticket, last Saturday, when they knocked off the Mount Vernon-Enola Warhawks at Morrilton in the semi-finals of the State Tournament. Ten years ago, the Izard County Cougars went to the Summit in Hot Springs and brought home the 1A State Championship trophy. This weekend, they will try to duplicate that achievement. The Cougars head back to the Spa City for a 7:45 p.m. tipoff on March 10, where they will face the Guy Perkins Thunderbirds.
The Cougars jumped out to an early lead when Justus Cooper lit things up with a baby hook shot in the lane and Dalton Dillard stroked a trey from the left wing. Cooper upped the lead with a step back jumper from the top of the key, making it an early 7-zip lead for the Cougars. Mt. Vernon-Enola finally got on the scoreboard at the 3:18 with a free throw and Dylan Tharp answered that with a pull up jumper off the free throw line, pushing the Cougar lead up to 9-1.
The Warhawks racked up back-to-back treys to close the gap down to a two point game, but Caleb Faulkner hit a jumper in the lane and Dillard hit one of two free throws to bump the lead to 12-7. The Warhawks capped the first stanza with a couple of charity tosses and the Cougars kept the lead, 12-9. Mt. Vernon-Enola made it a one point game with a bucket with less than half a minute gone from the clock in the second, but Faulkner drained a trey from the top of the key to make it a two possession game once again. The Warhawks picked up a bucket at the other end to keep it close, but Faulkner sank a couple of free throw to keep it a two possession game. The Warhawks picked up five straight points to claim their first lead at the 2:50 mark, taking an 18-17 lead. A little less than a minute ticked off the clock and Cooper stuck back a rebound and followed that with a traditional three point play, pushing Izard County back out in front 22-18, which held up until halftime.
The Warhawks opened the third quarter with six straight points, going up 24-22. Faulkner hit a jumper from near the free throw line to knot the game back up at 24-all, but a traditional three point play at the other end kept the Cougars trailing. Faulkner stole a ball on defense and took it back for the lay up, pulling Izard County back to within one. Another old fashioned three point play by Mt. Vernon-Enola gave them a two possession lead at 30-26, but a baby hook by Cooper off the right side and a floater in the lane from Faulkner tied the game 30-all with 3:40 left in the third. The Warhawks retook the lead with a trey, but Cooper hit a jumper from the top to keep it a one point game. Mt. Vernon-Enola stayed with the long range bombs, hitting their third trifecta of the frame to up their lead to 36-32 before Mike Uecker hit a reverse lay up to pull the Cougars back to within two. The fourth trey of the third quarter upped the Warhawks lead to 39-34, but Faulkner crashed the offensive glass and stuck back a rebound to close out the frame, pulling the Cougars back to within three points at 36-39.
Izard County had eight minutes to get things lined out and head back to Hot Springs, where Coach Kyle McCandlis has fond memories, since he was on the team ten years ago when Izard County last won the Championship. Uecker hit a jumper off the right side after getting the no look pass from Cooper, making it a one point game. The Warhawks made it four in a row as they nailed a trey to up their lead, and the Cougars started climbing back with a vengeance. Back-to-back buckets by Faulkner knotted the game to 42-all with 6:03 left in the game, then Cooper came back with two free throws at the 5:34 mark to put Izard County on top 44-42. With the Warhawks spreading the floor to pressure Izard County, Faulkner attacked the basket and hit the jumper in the lane to make it a two possession game at 47-43. Mt. Vernon-Enola never could put together back-to-back scores and Izard County hit free throws from there on to secure their ticket to the Championship game by taking a 52-48 win. For Izard County: Faulkner (22), Cooper (17), Uecker (6), Dillard (4), Tharp (2), and Everett (1).

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PUMPING IN THE POINTS: ICC’s Taylor Reynolds knocks down a jumper against the Pirates on November 15. Reynolds put up 12 points for Izard County. The Cougars took a 69-29 victory over Calico Rock. See full story and additional photos in this week’s Pacesetting Times. Photo/B.Stapleton

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CRASHING THE PARTY: ICC’s Coby Everett goes right at the defense during the ICC Jr. Cougar’s game against Hillcrest last weekend during the finals of the Bill McCurley Jr. High Tournament. Everett hit a game high 24 points. See full story and additional photos on page 7 in this week’s Pacesetting Times. Photo/B.Stapleton

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DISTRICT CHAMPS: The Izard County Junior Cougars won the District Championship against Calico Rock on Saturday night, 35-28. They were also Izard County Invitational Tournament Champs, 1A 2 North Conference Champs and Hillcrest Screamin’ Eagles Invitational Tournament Runner-ups this season. For additional District Tournament action, see page 7 of this week’s Pacesetting Times! Photo/Donell Russell

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TOUGH IN THE LANE: ICC’s Coby Jones goes up for two points against Nemo Vista in the Bad Boy Classic held at the Cougar Den in Brockwell last week. The Cougars picked up a 58-37 win over Nemo Vista and were paced by Andrew Walker’s 30 points while Taylor Reynolds delivered a well- rounded game as he added a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. See full story and additional photos in the October 28 edition of Pacesetting Times. Photo/B.Stapleton

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SOFT TOUCH: Jr. Cougar Chandler Smith goes for the running one hander against Western Grove last week. See full story and additional photos in the October 21 edition of Pacesetting Times! Photo/B.Stapleton

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Back to School in this week’s issue of the Pacesetting Times includes Izard County Consolidated, Melbourne, Calico Rock and Salem Public Schools. Get your school calendars, meet the upcoming football teams, and watch for sports each week from these schools!

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CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS: The Izard County sixth grade boys peewee team won the 14th Annual Izard County Invitational Peewee Basketball Tournament held on Saturday, March 21, at Brockwell. The sixth grade boys defeated Salem, 28-14 in the championship game to finish the season 12-0. Back row (l to r) Coach Kyle McCandlis, Caleb Faulkner, Rifle Comstock, Chase Orf, Coby Everett, Zach Simmons, and Drew Foster. Front row, Noah Johnson, Brady Taylor, Noah Everett, and Justin Stubblefield.fifth
CHAMPIONSHIP RUNNER-UP: The Izard County fifth grade boys finished second in the Tournament, losing to Gainesville MO, 22-16 in the championship game. Back row (l to r) Coach Kyle McCandlis, Keith Melton, Jared Brandon, Gunner Gleghorn, Josh Jensen, Muchael Shelton, and Landon McBride. Front row, Denton Riley, Isaac Lung, and Cody Timbs.

Putting on a show: ICC’s Clay Mosley slams home a dunk against Norfork last Friday night. Mosley finished with 13 points on the night. Cougars held on in overtime 64-61.See full game highlights in the November 12 edition of Pacesetting Times. mosely Photo/B.Stapleton

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WRAPPING UP THE FRONT NINE: Izard County Cougar Cody Workman putts on the 9th green midway through the District Golf Tournament. Workman qualified to compete in the 1A State Golf Tournament on October 7 at Drasco, as he was the tournament Medalist runner-up. Photo/B.Stapleton

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SALEM GREYHOUNDS: The undefeated Lady Greyhounds golf team won the District Tournament and the Greyhounds boys team finished second at District on Monday, September 22, qualifying both for berths at the State Championships. Lady ‘Hound team members (l to r) are Haley Ward, Kaci Barnett, Kendra Pendegrass, Bailey York and Kendra Rich. The ‘Hounds (l to r) are Coach JW Blevins, Dylan York, Mason Kinder, River Galbreath, Jeremy Brown, Jesse Kinder and Coach Stu Smart. The boys will travel to the 2A State Tournament at Thunder Bayou near Blytheville on Wednesday, October 8.

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DISTRICT CHAMPS: The Melbourne Bearkatz and Lady Bearkatz both took home District Golf Tournament victories. They are 2-3A district and both teams won District last year as well.