The Stuttgart Ricebirds (9-1) came into the CHS Gymnasium and took the Cougars (6-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten as CHS had their worst offensive performance of the year in a 68-55 loss.

The Stuttgart Ricebirds (9-1) came into the CHS Gymnasium and took the Cougars (6-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten as CHS had their worst offensive performance of the year in a 68-55 loss.

Helena-West Helena started slow and did not make a shot from the floor until Quanderius Sanders hit a 3-pointer with 2:55 to go in the opening quarter to pull the Cougars to within 12-6. At the end of the first period, the Ricebirds hit a shot as time expired and led 16-10 at the end of the first period.

The Ricebirds got hot in the second period as the Cougars continued to struggle to score and opened the quarter with a 9-2 run that was capped off with a 3-point shot with 4:30 to go in the first quarter that left the Ricebirds in front 25-12.

After Michael Boone hit three free throws on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to 10, the Ricebirds extended the lead to 14 points at 29-15 with 3:43 to go in the first half. But the Cougars remained within striking distance at the intermission as a 3-point shot by Job Eaton cut the lead to 37-26 at the intermission.

The second half brought more offensive woes for the Cougars as they continued to struggle to score while Stuttgart sprinted out of the locker room on an 11-2 run to go up 46-28 with 4:45 to go in the third period. But the Cougars responded with an 11-2 run of their own and cut the lead to single digits with 1:22 on a basket by Swazell Farmer to make the score 48-39 in favor of Stuttgart.

The Cougars opened the final period with a three by Sanders to cut the lead to 52-45 with 7:24 remaining in the game. Stuttgart responded out of a Cougar timeout with a 7-0 run and held the Cougars without a point for 2:33. The Cougars never recovered and suffered their first loss of the season.

Sanders led the way for the Cougars with 21 points. Farmer added nine for the Cougars.

The Lady Cougars (6-1) also suffered their first loss of the season as Stuttgart broke the game open with a 12-1 run to close out the first half to build a 19 point lead at the intermission with a score of 33-14.

Helena-West Helena tried to mount a rally in the second half. The Lady Cougars opened with a 9-2 run that closed the lead to 35-23 when Alexandria Sanders laid it off the glass and hit a free throw. However, that would be as close as CHS would get. Stuttgart was back up by 18 by the end of the quarter when the Lady Ricebirds hit a three at the buzzer to make the score 43-25.

J’Tyia Thomas led the way for Helena-West Helena with 18 points.

Helena-West Helena returns to action tonight on the road against the Dollarway Cardinals and will return home the rest of the week for the Helena-West Helena Invitational, sponsored by the Helena-West Helena Advertising and Promotion Commission, Wednesday through Friday. There will be six games each day beginning at noon.