JESSIEVILLE -- After trailing most of the first half, Fountain Lake worked its way back into the game Thursday night at Jessieville Sports Arena, using a high-energy second-half performance to defeat Jessieville 36-24.
With the Lions (2-1) leading 17-10 entering the third quarter, Cobras junior Landin Kizer led the comeback effort, hustling for several rebounds and second-chance scores in the paint to take the lead.
With the Cobras (2-1) trailing by one point early in the fourth, Cobras junior Michael Moore picked up an early steal, passing ahead to sophomore Evan East in transition for the layup and 21-20 lead. Heading into the final 5 minutes of action, Kizer grabbed two offensive rebounds and a putback. Kizer capped the late-game drive immediately after with a foul and bucket to put Fountain Lake on top 25-20. More steals came as a result of the Cobras' hustle, including one from senior Jon Farley with 1:54 to go in the game to up the lead to 6.
While standout sophomore Noah Futch sought to bring the Lions back by drawing the foul and sinking several free throws, the visiting team's big man continued hitting the boards to give the Cobras the win.
"We had to start trapping (in the second half)," said Fountain Lake head coach Jake Dettmering. "You know, Futch is such a good player, and they were having long offensive possessions. We weren't getting many offensive possessions, and then we're taking quick shots -- some ill-advised shots -- that kind of compounded the problem. That's why we had a hard time scoring.
"So the second half, we trapped them and tried to get rid of the ball, make some other guys make plays because he was hurting us. Anyway, we got some turnovers, and, I think just in general, it made us play harder. I think the energy was the difference in the second half. But they did a great job for, you know, being undermanned with football still going."
Though effort made up for the difference, the Cobras' overall shooting performance lacked on the night while the Lions came out hitting from the tipoff.
Jessieville hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter alone to take a 14-8 lead heading into the second frame. The Lions continued its solid shooting performance with Futch leading the way -- from inside and outside of the arc.
"We're up and down shooting right now," said Dettmering. "I hope, you know, we get confidence and rhythm. We shot better Tuesday night against Perryville, but our other two games we've been kind of sketchy with the outside shots. So, all you got to do is grind it out, see the ball go through the net, and put some extra time in. So hopefully as the season goes we get a little bit more rhythm and expect to hit the shots a little bit better."
Lions head coach Jared White said he was just super proud of the team's effort put forth Thursday night.
"First of all, I'm just proud of my guys," he said. "We've got several in football, and there's no excuses. We came to try and win tonight. They battled, and I couldn't ask for anything more after that, so I think we may have ran out of juice a little bit, but at the same time I think that lack of experience showed up in the second half. You know, we got a couple that were out there with some experience, but there were three and four at a time out there that had no varsity experience. So I couldn't ask for a better effort out of the guys."
While the football players will provide some much-needed relief after the football season ends, White said the entire season will present challenges to the squad.
"We're in a tough conference," he said. "Everybody that was in the top half of our conference last year has everybody back, including us, so we're excited about that. We lose Fountain Lake -- they move up to 4A -- and we lose Booneville, and we lose Paris. And then we gain Baptist Prep and Mayflower, which has been the regional champ and the regional runner-up the last two years and state contenders. They've been in the final four and then the finals. So I don't know that we are excited about who we're getting coming in, but it's just going to be one of those deals where if you're a competitor, you're going to have fun playing every Tuesday and Friday night because you don't get to take a night off. You've got to bring it every night."
Kizer led Fountain Lake with 13 points, eight rebounds and one steal followed by sophomore Evan East with 9 points, six rebounds, one assist and two steals. Senior guard Will Drakes finished with 4 points on the night.
Jessieville was led by Futch's 14 points, three rebounds and two steals while junior Noah Zetts added 3 points and four rebounds, and junior Ouyang added an additional 3 points with one steal.
The Lions will host Cutter Morning Star on Dec. 4 with games starting at 5:30 p.m. The Cobras will travel to Baptist Prep on Tuesday with the JV boys kicking off the night at 5:30 p.m.