Jarell Hamilton goes up for the score. 

PONTOTOC – The Houlka Wildcats took to the road last week to face off against the South Pontotoc Cougars.

The Wildcats came into the game with a season record of 4-4, and the Cougars had a 3-7 record.

Ultimately the Wildcats would go on to lose by a score of 71-68, however, this was one of the biggest leads that either team held that night.

The Cougars came out strong, draining three pointers with a consistency that the Wildcats' defense was unable to adapt to at first.

However, the Wildcats' offense soon found their rhythm, attacking the paint and going for the two pointers.

This was a method that they relied on heavily throughout the night, as the Cougars' defense seemed unable to properly guard the paint. Either the Wildcats would score or head to the line for free throws.

It was an extremely close game, with neither team taking more than a five point lead at any given time.

Houlka scored a buzzer-beating score to tie it at 18 at the half.

The second half remained as close as the first.

It was a one to two point game for most of the second half, but a few costly turnovers sealed the Wildcats' fate.

“I thought we played really really hard,” said head coach Seth Burt. “There was a lot of lead changes in this game tonight, it was back and forth a lot and we battled hard to get it tied there with under a minute to go and then we just made some mental mistakes, fouling when we really didn't need to there with the game tied under a minute. We had the ball in our hands late in the game, down by a point, and just turned the ball over a couple of times down the stretch, turned the ball over there on our last possession and didn't get a shot off and that is disappointing. Overall I am proud of our guys for battling back tonight.”

This season, the Wildcats have leaned on sophomore Seth Winter, who led them in scoring this game as well, scoring 18 points. Other players contributed as well with AJ Foster and Tarquavious Jackson scoring double digits for the team as well.

The virus has affected the Wildcats heavily this season, with them being quarantined for two weeks at the beginning of the season, and a few players missing here and there.

“We have played very few games this year with our entire team,” said Burt. “It has just kind of been whoever is available that night is who plays and I hope we can get our entire team back soon, besides Brandon Pulliam who is out for the year with a torn ACL. Hopefully after tonight, we can get everybody back besides him and start to get healthy and hopefully get on a roll here soon.”

The Wildcats will take on North Pontotoc at their gym in Houlka on Monday, Dec. 21, then they will take a break for Christmas.

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