The Helena-West Helena Central Cougars (15-1, 9-1) needed only three seconds to take the lead on the Dollarway Cardinals and never trailed on the way to a 79-61 victory at the CHS Gymnasium.
After Shamarkus Otey took the opening tip and drove straight to the basket for the game’s first point, the Cougars stretched out the early lead to 11-4, punctuated by two baskets from Quanderius Sanders.
However, Dollarway would not go quietly. The Cardinals responded with a 9-2 run, sparked by a basket, missed free throw and putback that gave them four points in two seconds to cut the Cougar lead to 11-8.
After Dollarway tied the game at 15-15, Fred Franklin came off the bench and swished a long three-pointer to put the Cougars back in front. On the next possession, Justin Redmon awakened the Cougar faithful with a slam off a Cardinal turnover to make it 20-15. Helena-West Helena would stretch the lead back to seven at the end of the first quarter by a score of 24-17.
That lead would grow to double digits with 7:17 to go in the first half when Job Eaton’s bucket made it 27-17. But Dollarway would score six straight and scored with 5:45 to go in the second period to make the score 27-23 in favor of the Cougars.
CHS would gradually expand the lead again. With the Cougars leading 34-28, Demond Franklin nailed a shot from long range to push the lead back up to nine at 37-28. After another dunk and a putback by Redmon, the Cougars were back up by ten at 41-31 with 0:45 left in the first half. Javontis Guy would round out the scoring for the Cougars with a basket as the buzzer sounded to send Helena-West Helena into the locker room with a 43-34 lead.
Helena-West Helena opened the third quarter by pushing the lead to 14 points after Guy hit a basket with 4:20 to go in the third to make it 53-39. But Dollarway make another run, scoring with 0:20 to go in the period to cut the Cougar lead back to single digits at 59-50. Michael Boone hit a free throw with one second left in the quarter to make it 60-50 going into the final stanza.
Helena-West Helena owned the fourth quarter. The Cougar defense turned it up a notch and held the Cardinals six points in over six minutes. When Shamarkus Otey scored with 2:38 remaining in the game, the Cougars led by 18 at 74-56 and were able to cruise the rest of the way. Sanders led the Cougars with 16 points. Jacquavian Jackson added 11 for CHS.
The Lady Cougars (13-3, 8-2) had no problem dispatching with the Lady Cardinals. Helena-West Helena opened up a 17-2 lead by the end of the first quarter. By the half, it was 34-5 and the teams played the entire second half with a running clock. J’Tyia Thomas and Tara Green led CHS with 15 points each. Alexandria Sanders added 10 for Helena-West Helena.
In Jr. Boys action, the Cats picked up a win 51-35 win over Dollarway. Jermaine Williams led Central with 15 points. Jaylon Stayton added 12.