2/19/21: On Friday night, playing for the GISA region 5AA consolation prize versus the Fulton Science Academy Mustangs, The Cottage School Cougars put on a defensive display for the ages. FSA had recently been scoring more than the previous two games played. They put up 50 points on the dominant Solid Rock top seed in a recent contest before the playoffs. To add, All-Region Mustang player, #13 Jeremy Anderson is coming off five straight games with over 18 points and two of those with 30 points. The Cougars knew they had better be focused or could slip up and put a serious question on whether they would earn a right into the GISA AA state tournament. Coach Briggs spoke before the contest, “We are not a strong offensive unit so we had better execute our game plan. Even though we should win tonight, if we don’t play cohesively on defense FSA could put pressure on us to score more points and that is our weakness.”
Exactly what Coach Richie Briggs was worried about happened in the first frame. Fulton Science knocked down a couple three pointers early, while Cottage missed five first quarter layups and only connected on 3-10 from the charity stripe. Thankfully for TCS, they kept the Mustangs scoreless the final two minutes of that period and were down just 11-9.
After a brief minute break, Cottage stayed locked in with intense defense. Their helpside was so good it appeared the Cougars were playing a zone. With every Fulton Science attack, there were a swarm of white and purple jerseys surrounding them. The Mustangs only mustered 2 points; thanks to that team defense and most notably Alex Hogg. Alex blocked four shots in the period to deny any pain points for FSA. Cottage took the lead and held a slim 17-13 edge at intermission.
TCS made one minor adjustment to their offense hoping it would give a different outcome and more scoring chances. Coach Briggs explains, “Well, we have been working on hitting the high post to initiate our offense all year but don’t do it often. It has really not produced much difference in offensive output, but right now we have missed too many layups so we are going to switch it up and see if it changes our fate. It can’t hurt!”
That gut instinct sparked a 20-3 third period surge, taking a 37-16 Cougar edge late third stanza. Cottage continued to hold the fort and finished the period ahead 41-20. Aidan Briggs had the tough assignment of guarding #13-Anderson and to this point held him to just three points. Assistant Coach Henderson spoke at the break, “Now that is great defense. When we communicate efficiently and jump to the ball; it calls for a block party!”
Fulton Science finally cracked through in the final period, but the damage was already done. TCS went on to win 53-39 and is now 14-8 on the season. They will wait until Sunday to find out if and who they will travel to for their first ever GISA state playoff game.
For those interested, Solid Rock captured the region title. They defeated Furtah 71-52 but it was only 46-43 to start the fourth quarter. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 heading into the state tournament. The Lions are ranked second; and for good reason with dynamic athletes who can score from anywhere on the court.
The Cougars achieved some history in this contest. Only once before had three Cougars recorded a double-double in the same game. Debatably the best team in school history; the 2010 back-to-back AAC champions produced a three player double-double win over AASD (Omari Anderson, Scott Hendrickson, and Jordan Webb-all TCS Hall of Famers). Aidan Briggs, Alex Hogg, and Kyle Kimble each accomplished this feat.
Alex Hogg had the best night with 13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers, and 7 blocked shots.
Kyle Kimble tried his best to match it leading his team with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
Aidan Briggs hauled down 10 boards to go with 11 points and 4 assists.
Daniel Byman finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals.
Matthew Placide did well off the bench with 4 boards, 3 points, and a blocked shot.