STUARTS DRAFT — Coming down the home stretch of the regular season, Augusta County rivals Stuarts Draft and Fort Defiance were looking for a win to gain momentum.
The Cougars looked to stay on top in the Shenandoah District, while the Indians were looking to pull an upset on Senior Night at the Cougars Den.
Despite 40 points from the Fort’s Ryan Cook, the Cougars prevailed putting up 29 points in the final quarter to stave off a late Indian uprising.
“He (Cook’s) a heck of a scorer,” said Stuarts Draft head coach Mike Gale. “Fort did a great job and I give them credit.”
The Cougars gained a 20-14 lead at the end of the first quarter and never surrendered it. The Indians did pull even in the second quarter (25-all) on a basket by Cook, but the Draft broke away again and Aaron Nice’s three-pointer at the end of the period gave the Cougars a 38-30 lead at the half.
The Indians got back within two late in the third period on a basket and two free throws from Cook and a foul shot from Kaden Johnson.
At that point, things got heated and both coaches received bench warnings.
Cooler heads prevailed and the game settled down again.
Cook’s two buckets to start the fourth quarter got the Indians within three (55-52), but the Cougars went on an 18-4 burst after Mark Rodgers made a circus shot and converted the ensuing free throw. This gave the home team its largest lead of the contest with half the period played.
But the Indians chipped away and closed the gap.
Vincent Sipe scored five quick points and Cook dropped in another basket and the Indians got within 79-72 with less than two minutes to play.
The Cougars scored three more free throws to hold off the Indians in the waning moments.
“I thought we did a good job of offensive rebounds in the second half,” Gale said. “This was our last home game so it was a good memory for the seniors.”
Freddie Watkins had a double-double with 12 rebounds and 11 points, while Rodgers led in scoring for Stuarts Draft with 16 points and had 16 deflections on defense.
Kevin Ooten had five assists and Nice and Jo’el Howard had 13 and 11 points respectively for the Cougars.
Stuarts Draft (12-8, 7-1 district) has two more district games on the road next week, traveling to Staunton (Tuesday) and Riverheads (Friday).
Fort Defiance (5-14, 3-5 district) completes its regular season with home games against Wilson Memorial (Tuesday) and Stonewall Jackson (Wednesday) and a trip to Buffalo Gap on Friday.