The Somerset Christian Cougars came into this season with everyone viewing them as underdogs as this is their first season competing in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Last night, the Cougars played the McCreary Central Raiders as their first KHSAA game, and despite a rough start, Somerset Christian came back and battled with the Raiders, proving they will fight and compete with tougher competition.
"I knew that playing in the KHSAA was going to be fast and physical, now the boys know what I was talking about," said SCS head coach Kirk Stickley. "The transition is going to be a learning process. We'll adapt and get better. We have a lot more work to do."
The Raiders flew out of the gate and sophomore Kyle Stephens established his inside game early with three straight driving layups that gave them a 6-0 lead, which contributed to an 11-0 start for the Raiders.
Senior Joshua Stein finished a driving layup to put his Cougars on the board in the first, but Somerset struggled to piece anything else together on the offensive end for the remainder of the first.
McCreary Central continued to find success inside the paint, and Somerset Christian only managed a single free throw by junior Luke Atwood after the basket by Stein, and the Cougars trailed 17-3 after the first period.
It was a whole different story in second quarter though.
Early in the second the Raiders put in another pair of driving layups to extend their lead, but senior Aaron Crubaugh nearly matched their buckets with back to back opportunities at the free throw line where he went three of four. However, the Raiders answered back with back to back free throw opportunities of their own where they went four of four.
Noah Loudermilk nailed McCreary's second three of the game to extend the Raider lead to 20 points at 28-8 midway through the second period.
This was where the Cougars finally found some success on the offensive end. Atwood put in a mid range shot, and junior Braydon Moore finished a driving layup through contact that resulted in a three point play, and cut the Raider lead to 15.
Then, Atwood and Moore nailed back to back three point shots to bring McCreary Central's lead back to single digits late in the second.
Trent Conatser put in an inside bucket, and a free throw late to give his Raiders a 31-19 lead at halftime.
Not only were the Cougars able to find some success on the offensive end late in the second, but they also were able to neutralize McCreary's inside game that had punished them early.
After the halftime break, Moore continued to show out for the Cougars. Throughout the third quarter he knocked down three triples, and drew a foul that resulted in another two points for him.
Despite his effort, Stephens continued to dominate inside and keep his Raiders a safe distance from Somerset Christian on the scoreboard, and they went in to the fourth on top of the Cougars 48-34.
Stephens continued his incredible play into the fourth quarter and continued to extend the Raider lead as Somerset's offensive success began to slow down.
The result of the final quarter, was a 67-45 McCreary Central victory.
"I thought we played well in the second and third quarter," said coach Stickley. "We got tired in the fourth. The McCreary bench depth hurt us in the fourth. Braydon Moore had a very good game though."
Despite the loss, Moore was able to shine and help the Cougars somewhat keep up with a 22 point performance.
Stephens was the star of the show for the Raiders as he finished with 31 points.
The Cougars will travel to Casey County on Tuesday for their second game of the season where they will play the Casey County Rebels in their season opener.
SCS - 3 - 16 - 15 - 11 - 45
MCHS - 17 - 14 - 17 - 19 - 67
Moore 22, Atwood 11, A. Crubaugh 7, D. Crubaugh 3, Stein 2.
Stephens 31, Conaster 12, Loudermilk 9, (3) 9, (35) 4, (2) 2.