The McLean County High School boys’ basketball team opened up the 2021 season with an impressive 3-0 start after wins at home and on the road last week. The Cougars won 65-40 against Trigg County on Jan. 5 before sealing a 50-48 victory over Hancock County in the All “A” Tournament at the Sportscenter the next night. McLean County hosted the Heart of Christ out of Louisville on Jan. 8 and finished with a solid 70-39 win.
The Cougars fashioned stellar defense in their initial game against the Wildcats with a nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter that they extended to 35-17 by the half. McLean County stretched out front to 60-35 by the 4:00 mark of the fourth quarter and sealed the win 65-40.
Brady Dame had a double-double by halftime and led the way for the Cougars with 25 points, 20 rebounds, two steals and two assists. Andrew Brackett (12) and Jaden Arnold (11) also hit double figures for the Cougars.
“I was really pleased with our efforts and execution for the first game,” Head Coach Darren Lynam said. “We played well against a team full of athletes.”
McLean County played at the Owensboro Sportscenter in the 3rd Region All “A” semi-finals against the Hancock County Hornets and survived with a 50-48 win last Wednesday. The Hornets forged ahead early and built their lead to 20-12 early in the second quarter. But McLean County locked down on defense with an 18-6 run to jump out front 30-26 at halftime.
The Cougars grabbed an early third quarter lead only to see the Hornets tie it up at 40 to start the final period. McLean County then built a five-point advantage before Hancock County surged back on the strength of a couple three-pointers. Ahead 49-48 with half a minute to play, the Cougar defense rose to the occasion again as they forced a missed shot with :08 left and secured the rebound. Jaden Arnold then sank a free throw to make it 50-48. Hancock County’s desperation heave at the buzzer fell short and McLean advanced to the Championship game with the win.
Brady Dame led with 18 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block. Jaden Arnold put up 12 points, grabbed four boards and made the same in assists.
“We didn’t play the best, but as I told the guys, good teams have to find a way to win when they don’t play their best. We found a way to do that tonight,” Lynam said.
The Cougars wrapped up their week with a game against Heart for Christ last Friday night at home. Heart took an early lead before the Cougars secured the lead for good at 11-9 on a three-pointer by Travis Phillips. The advantage grew to 39-21 at the half and McLean County finished with a 70-39 victory.
Brady Dame had another double-double from 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block. Andrew Brackett had 13 points, three rebounds and two steals. Travis Phillips had 12 points, two rebounds, four assists and a steal.
“Heart was a scrappy bunch and played very hard,” Lynam said. “I am very pleased with the start we are off to. I don’t think you can beat a 3-0 start after the graduation losses we had from last year.”
The Cougars will travel to Webster County tonight, Jan. 14 with tipoff at 7:30 p.m. The team will participate in the Agrigold Winter Classic at the Sportscenter on Saturday. They will play Foundation Christian Academy at 12:30 p.m. and Union County at 7 p.m.