The Houston Tigers offense heated up to erase a large deficit. Then the same offense went cold down the stretch when it mattered most.

After rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit to take the lead, the Tigers managed just two points the final five minutes and lost 69-62 to Licking Thursday morning in the opening round of the Cabool Holiday Tournament.

HHS (4-4) will receive a bye in the consolation bracket and play again at 9 a.m. Saturday. Licking advanced to face top-seeded Liberty on Friday.

The ninth-seeded Tigers took their first lead of the game on Aaron Cantrell’s putback with 5 minutes, 36 seconds left and led by two after Devin Coulter made a free throw on the next possession. But Licking scored 10 unanswered points to regain the advantage and held Houston without a point until Keegan Spurlin’s free throws with under one minute remaining. 

Coulter and Aaron Cantrell scored 21 points apiece to pace Houston. Coulter moved 11 points away from 1,000 for his career.

Lane Duncan scored a game-high 24 points for Licking (5-0). Zach Melton and Aaron Wilson added 13 apiece.

The No. 8 Wildcats scored the first seven points of the game for a quick lead. The Tigers pulled even at 20-all on Coulter’s 3-pointer at the 6:53 mark of the second quarter. Licking answered with a 14-2 run and led 38-24 at the half.

Coulter and Kolby Walker connected from downtown to open the third quarter as HHS went on a 13-2 run to pull within striking distance. The Tigers, who scored 25 points in the third, trailed by three entering the fourth.

Cantrell hit a triple and scored on the interior to put Houston in front 59-58. Coulter hit a free throw to extend the advantage to two, but the Tigers didn’t get another field goal and managed just two points the rest of the way.

BOX SCORE

Houston       15      9      25      13      –      62   
Licking    20    18    14    17    –    69 

HOUSTON (62) – Nathan Poynter 7. Devin Coulter 21. Aaron Cantrell 21. Kolby Walker 9. Keegan Spurlin 4. FG 24. FT 7-10. (3-pointers: Cantrell 3, Coulter 2, Poynter, Walker).

LICKING (69) – Jake Hood 10. Lane Duncan 24. Aaron Wilson 14. Mason Porter 5. Zach Melton 13. Jacob Lane 4. FG 28. FT 4-8. (3-pointers: Melton 3, Hood, Duncan, Wilson, Porter).

Thursday’s scores

First round

Licking 69, Houston 62

Eminence 71, Norwood 52

Winona 64, Seymour 31

Thayer 91, Lutie 34

Cabool 67, Plato 56

Gainesville 88, Couch 58

Dora 70, Sparta 52

Friday’s games

Friday’s Schedule

Norwood vs. Seymour, 10:30 a.m.

Lutie vs. Plato, 12 p.m.

Couch vs. Sparta, 1:30 p.m.

Liberty vs. Licking, 3 p.m.

Eminence vs. Winona, 4:30 p.m.

Thayer vs. Cabool, 6 p.m.

Gainesville vs. Dora, 7:30 p.m.

PDF: Cabool Holiday Tournament bracket

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