Owen Earnest soars to career-high 27-point night in Cougars’ win vs Crisp Academy

Published 12:46 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

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The Cougars beat the Crisp Academy Wildcats 74-61. The game was back and forth in the first half, but the Cougars pulled away in the third and kept the lead through the end. 

Junior guard Owen Earnest led the team in points with a career-high 27 points and shot 76% from the field. Cougars’ Head Coach Travis Harrison said Earnest has been capable of the career performance and that Earnest had to realize it himself.

“He’s been showing flashes,” Harrison said. “He’s always been a confident dribbler around the perimeter, and he’s always been a confident shooter, but he never wanted to combine those things by attacking the basket… Now he goes to the rim with reckless abandon, and I love it.”

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Grace opened the scoring with a layup by Earnest directly from the tip-off. The quick start from the guard continued through the quarter, and he finished with 10 points, more than half of the Cougars’ total first-quarter points.

The Cougars jumped to a 7-0 lead, but the Wildcats crept back into the game as the quarter progressed, slowly making up ground on the lead. The score at the end of the quarter was 19-18, Wildcats in the lead.

The game turned into a back-and-forth battle in the second quarter. There were 10 lead changes throughout the quarter, and neither team gained a lead by more than five points. The score was 32-31, Wildcats, going into halftime.

The Cougars jumped out to a 43-34 lead halfway through the third quarter. They reclaimed the momentum and turned a close game into a Cougar-dominated one.

They maintained the nine-point lead and added two more to it as the quarter progressed— The score at the end of the quarter was 51-40, Cougars.

“We’ve had this happen several times,” Harrison said. “We can start off with a good strategy, build up a little bit of momentum, and then the other coach or the other players, they make an adjustment, and it takes us a few minutes to counter… we all were able to think on our feet a lot faster [tonight].”

The Cougars pulled away more in the fourth quarter, bringing their lead to 13 by the end of the game. The final score was 74-61. Harrison said the win is important to the rest of the season. 

“I’m hoping this is the jumpstart,” Harrison said. “We had a rocky start. Football and cross country took us out at the first couple of bits, then we had some illness take us out, then we played a couple of big opponents like [North Florida Christian Academy] in Tallahassee… I’m hoping that this was the game that got us in the rhythm that’ll send us through the rest of the season.”

The Cougars travel to Fullington Academy for their next matchup. The away game tips off at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12.