Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
In 2016, the Madison County High School (MCHS) Cowboys were defeated by the Hornets of Hawthorne High School in the first round of the state basketball play-offs with a score of 57-45. But that was in 2016. In 2017, the MCHS Cowboys were defeated by the Hornets of Hawthorne High School in the second round of the state basketball playoffs with a score of 69-53. But that was in 2017. This year, 2018, would be different. On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the MCHS Cowboys hosted an old nemesis, the “Haw-thorne” in their side, the Hornets of Hawthorne High School. When the two teams entered the gymnasium at MCHS, the packed crowd could easily feel the excitement in the air. There was something different about this game. The Hornets entered the gym with an air of confidence one would expect from the number one team in the state. Little doubt, success over the Cowboys over the previous years added to the Hornets' confidence. The Cowboys entered the gym with something to prove, not only to their opponents, but perhaps more importantly to themselves. That they could clear the “Hawthorne hurdle” and move to the next level; and clear that hurdle they did. For the first time in school history, the Cowboys have punched their ticket to play in the Final Four in Lakeland.
The Cowboys built and early lead and, by the end of the first quarter, held a 10 point advantage with a 19-9 score. Efficient shooting, especially from the three-point line, along with a stifling defense that held the Hornets scoreless for the first 3:30 of the second quarter, helped the Cowboys open their lead to 15 by the end of the first half. The first half ended with the Cowboys ahead, 35-20. The end of the third quarter found the Cowboys ahead with a 54-34 lead. Not taking their opponent lightly, the Cowboys continued to keep the pressure on for the rest of the game. When the final buzzer sounded, and the game clock hit 00:00, the Cowboys had built an insurmountable 30-point, 70-40 lead.
Demarvion Brown led the Cowboys with 24 points. Travis Jay chalked up another “triple-double,” scoring 12 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and 13 assists. Ken Hawkins scored 11 points for the Cowboys. Chris Simmons hit two of three from the three-point line on his way to scoring eight points. Tre Adams scored seven points and had four key blocked shots on defense. Bailey Browning and Zarrion Robinson also added to the Cowboys' point total.
The Cowboys will now travel to Lakeland for the Class 1A Final Four Championship playoff. They will face either Bell High School or Wildwood High School in the semi-final game on Monday, March 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m., at the RP Funding Center, located at 701 W. Lime St. in Lakeland. Information about the online live broadcast of the game can be found at www.nfhsnetwork.com.