2/24/21: The Cottage School Cougars earned a right to play in the GISA AA state tournament by finishing the season ranked twelfth of the top sixteen allowed in. Terrell Academy was their opponent, who were the region 3AA champions and the five seed. Matter of fact, Terrell has now won three straight region championships. The first round of the tournament the higher seed hosts per GISA rule, so Cottage made the three hour trip down to Dawson, GA excited for their first ever state playoff contest. This marked the first year in school history that the Cougars would compete in a GISA region. In region 5AA TCS finished third with an overall 3-3 record, losing to two final four state champion contenders; Solid Rock Academy and Furtah Prep. They swept Fulton Science Academy for the three wins.
Terrell would prove why they came into the night boasting a 15-4 record with an aggressive half court zone trap and have four different players that could score twenty points on any given night. They jumped on Cottage early taking a 6-0 lead from three straight TCS turnovers. After a timeout, the Cougars would execute efficiently over the next four possessions, but found themselves still down 15-6. The two teams played evenly over the next few minutes as the Terrell Eagles held a 21-11 first quarter edge.
The Eagles continued to harass the inexperienced Cougars and forced several more turnovers in the second stanza. Cottage could only muster four more points offensively and Terrell almost doubled their lead, ahead at halftime 32-15. Coach Briggs spoke at intermission, “We are fortunate that our boys bring it defensively. If not for that effort we would be down by thirty points right now. We protect the ball second half, we have a chance.” Cottage did improve in that area with twelve turnovers in the second two quarters, compared to seventeen in the first half. The only issue is against a good scoring team that is way too many.
To begin the third period, Terrell went on a 10-0 run as the Cougars came up empty on their first twelve possessions. TCS had five turnovers and missed seven shots during the first four minutes and the Eagles widened their lead to 42-15. Cottage did make one final gasp outscoring Terrell 11-6 to finish the third quarter but the damage was done. Terrell is too good of a team to blow a 48-26 advantage with only eight minutes remaining and at home. Sure enough they protected their nest and the Eagles soared to the 66-36 victory. With the win they moved on to play the #4 seed Solid Rock Lions (R5 champions). Solid Rock would beat Terrell over the weekend by twenty-nine points (80-51).
The Cottage School Cougars season comes to a close and it was still a very successful one. They became back-to-back AAC champions (for an AAC record third different time), bringing a 7th AAC crown home. Despite the toughest schedule since 2013, TCS still finished 14-9 and that was without playing their regular AAC foes (AASD, Howard, and Tapestry) two times each since they pulled out per Covid. Hopefully all schools will be back as normal next season and the Cougars can work to improve from their first GISA region experience.
Aidan Briggs had a solid state performance. Not only did he draw the assignment of guarding their best player (#31-Pittman)-who was held to just four points, but Aidan finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and took three charges. He now holds the school record with 27 charges in one season. The previous record was held by Chase Follis (2017 alumni) in 2016 with 17 charges taken. Aidan also finished with 8 double-doubles on the year which gives him 21 in his career. He is third all-time in double-doubles behind AJ Farrar (43) & Kia Smith (24). Aidan is also approaching elite career statistics. In just three years he is 3rd all-time with 672 rebounds (AJ Farrar & Kia Smith), 4th in points with 931 (Omari Anderson, AJ Farrar, & Chris Taura), and 4th in steals with 162 (Chris Taura, Harris Menetre, & Omari Anderson).
Alex Hogg scored 11 points and grabbed 3 boards, and was a pest in the paint. He blocked 6 shots which gave him 97 on the year. This destroys the previous Cottage record of 64 (AJ Farrar in 2013).
Daniel Byman was held to just one basket but he played well defensively. He snatched 2 of the teams’ 3 total steals. Daniel finishes the season with 66 steals which is sixth all-time. The record is 102 by Harris Menetre in 2018.
Kyle Kimble also struggled to score (2 points), but he did play well. He recorded 3 boards, 2 assists, and a blocked shot.
The Cougar defense did make it difficult for any one player to hurt them. No Eagle had over 14 points and despite having four strong and tall athletes inside, they were held in check only scoring 8 points off the glass. It was the 16 points given away in transition off of poor passes that aided Terrell to 66 points.
We would like to say thank you and we will miss the seniors. Suroy and I are grateful for your dedication, commitment, and Cougar spirit. Take the valuable lessons learned out to the real world. You will make a positive difference in society!
Javier Cremer, Nick Smith, and Ruslan van Kesteren