By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The previous showdown between Tipton County rivals the Brighton Cardinals and Munford Cougars was a game of runs leading to the Cardinals outlasting Munford.
The rematch in the Munford Gymnasium Feb. 4 was a contest of endurance. Could the visiting Cardinals survive the challenge of the Cougars to earn a second victory over their District 13-3A foe?
Stan Gatlin’s Cardinals made enough plays down the stretch to prevail 37-30.
“We just don’t have the mental toughness yet,” Gatlin acknowledged of team after the win. “I’m trying to get them to understand that. You flare up or they get upset. You know when you mess up, I’m going to fuss at you for messing up or you not doing what you’re supposed to do.
“You’re going to have the audacity to get mad when I am fussing at you and you know you’re wrong,” the veteran coach continued. “What really makes me upset when you try to blame somebody else for your mistakes. You can’t be a man like that. You have to own up to your mistakes and do better the next time.”
The Cardinals had a chance to do better than the 57-47 win from January in the Brighton Gymnasium. Instead the pressure defense employed by Munford Head Coach Ryan Ross neutralized Brighton to 16 points in the first half.
Meanwhile the Cougars could only manage 16 points as well in the first 16 minutes of action.
The Cardinals grabbed the lead early in the third quarter when TJ Rivers made a steal leading to a basket. Then his teammate Anthony Smith followed up with bucket to make the score 20-16.
Cougar Levi Poindexter drilled a three-pointer with 4:26 remaining in the third quarter to make it a one-point game.
Brighton got a little breathing room by the end of the third quarter when Kejuan Dyson made a layup and Ken Hennings hit a jumper.
Smith and Rivers added baskets to make the score 28-21 entering the fourth quarter.
Brighton’s largest lead of the game came courtesy of a River bucket to make the score 30-21.
Munford responded with a 6-0 run led by TJ Buford scoring 4 of those points. The 30-27 score transformed into the 37-30 decision with Brighton making foul shots down the stretch from Ladarius Taylor and Demaryo Gatlin.
By Thomas Sellers Jr.