With the help of a youth movement, the McDonald County High School boys' basketball team defeated the Aurora Houn' Dawgs, 48-39, on Jan. 4 at Aurora High School for the Mustangs' fourth win of the season against eight losses.
McDonald County was led in scoring by senior Cooper Reece with 15 points off the bench, but Cole Martin and Pierce Harmon combined for nine points after being elevated to the varsity from the freshmen squad.
Martin scored five points, including a three-pointer with 2:08 left in the third quarter that broke a 26-26 tie, while Harmon added four points in a reserve role, including his first points on a layup on the Mustangs' next possession after Martin's trey to give McDonald County a five-point lead with a minute and a half left in the third quarter.
"I thought we did some good things defensively," said coach Kyle Fields. "Our effort was really good and our full-court pressure was good. We missed some 'cribs' early, but we made enough plays late to pull away."
Aurora's Chandler Phelps basket and free throw late in the third quarter cut McDonald County's lead to two, but sophomore Trent Alik sank a three-pointer at the end of the quarter to give McDonald County a 34-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Reece hit a short jumper and Cade Smith added five quick points on a three-pointer and a jumper to give McDonald County a 41-31 lead early in the final period.
After Aurora's Kaden Clark hit one of two free throws, Reece's bucket gave the Mustangs their largest lead of the game at 43-32 with 1:40 left in the game.
The Houn' Dawgs used a pair of McDonald County turnovers to cut the margin to five points with 1:15, but McDonald County hit five of six free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
"We got a good contribution from the bench tonight," Fields said. "They gave us a good spark. We struggled scoring a little bit at times, but we hit enough shots to win. Holding them to 39 points gave us a chance to win and we took advantage of that."
Aurora led, 4-2, midway through the first quarter, but baskets by Martin and Boston Dowd and a three-pointer by Alik gave McDonald County a 9-4 lead late in the quarter before Aurora's Garrett Boyd hit a trey at the end of the period to cut the lead to 9-7.
McDonald County stretched the lead to 15-7 to start the second quarter, but only managed a pair of Dowd free throws the rest of the period and settled for a 17-17 tie at intermission.
Aurora's Casey Weatherman scored to give the Houn' Dawgs the lead to open the third quarter. Dowd hit a free throw and Reece scored eight consecutive points for the Mustangs to tie the game at 26-26 before Martin gave the Mustangs' the lead for good with his three-pointer late in the period.
In addition to Reece's 15 points, Dowd had eight, Smith and Alik seven each, Martin five, Harmon four and Koby McAlister two.
Boyd finished with 15 points, and Weatherman 14, to lead Aurora.
McDonald County hosted Monett on Jan. 8 before facing Seneca on Jan. 13 in the Mustangs' annual homecoming contest.
Smith scored 16 points, Harmon 14 and Jackson Clarkson 12, to lead the McDonald County junior varsity to a 61-25 win.
McDonald County led 16-7 at the end of the first quarter and 28-10 at halftime before outscoring the Houn' Dawgs, 29-8, in the third quarter for a 57-18 lead.
Rounding out the scoring for the Mustangs were McAlister with eight points, Cale Adamson and Colliar Gottfried, four each, and Parker Harris, three.
After trailing 18-13 at halftime, the McDonald County freshman team outscored Aurora, 25-9, in the second half to pull out a 38-27 win.
Bo Leach scored 11 points and Garrett Gricks added 10 to lead the Mustangs, followed by Colton Ruddick with six, Teddy Reedybacon and Eli McClain with four each and Devin Swanson three.
Sports on 01/10/2019
Print Headline: Mustangs Defeat Houn' Dawgs