The final went to the visiting Leopards, 87-85, but it was definitely not as easy as they had hoped after a dominating first half.
The Cougars shot well from the floor but not from behind the three-point arc in the first half. CBC hit only one of 11 three-pointers over the first 20 minutes while canning a little over 50 percent of their other shot attempts.
The Temple men were hitting from everywhere in the first half. Outside jumpers fell. Short drives for lay-ups found the bottom of the net. Mid-range jumpers went down, everything worked.
It was 59-31 at the half as the Cougars managed just one three-pointer and 14 other baskets against the Temple defense.
The second half was a different story.
“We came out and executed our game plan that we had talked about before the contest,” said Cougar head coach Larry Mendez.
The Cougars played inspired defense and started to find their outside shooting-eye. The CBC defense also stepped up the speed and pressure to hound the Leopards all over the floor.
Temple could not buy a basket and the Cougars rushed down the floor for a few fastbreak points and made a game of it late in the second half. It was just a two-point tilt, 78-76, at the four-minute mark.
“Temple took us out of our game plan in the first half. We came down and took quick shots and we weren’t hitting them,” said Mendez.
“We played much better defense and dictated the game in the second half. I just wish we could have done that a little in the first half.”
The Leopards prevailed down the stretch as a few CBC turnovers helped the visitors hold off the Cougars. The Leopards opened an 86-79 lead but the CBC men hit a three-pointer and pulled within four with just 9.3 seconds left to play.
CBC was forced to foul and Temple made one of the two shots to make it 87-82. The final three went in for the Cougars but the buzzer sounded with the score at 87-85.
Five Cougars reached double figures. Ashton Brown led the way with 16 points. David Atkinson followed with 14. Tanner Elenburg hit for 13 as did Dajon King. Dominic Steadham finished with 11 points on the night. Post Chucky Mells pulled down nine rebounds and contributed four blocks. Brown helped out on the boards with eight caroms. King dished out eight assists on the night.
CBC hosted Lee College on Monday night and will travel to Paris Junior College on Wednesday evening to challenge the Dragons.