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October 26, 2023

Cowboys outlasted by FM Marcus 50-47 in OT, fall to 0-1 in district play


By John Loop
Sports Writer

“We knew in a district game, it would be a battle.”

These were the words of Coppell Cowboys basketball head coach Kit Pehl after a 50-47 overtime loss to the Flower Mound Marcus Marauders.

And a battle it was.

The Cowboys battled the entire game, but it ultimately was not enough.

The Marauders and their star player, junior guard Jack Holden, came out with the hot hand in the first quarter. Holden scored the first eight Marcus points of the game, en route to 21 points for the night.

“He is a guy that , if he sets his feet, he is going to knock it down,” Pehl said. “Early in the game, he got cut loose a little too much. I thought he was a really steady force for Marcus.”

But Coppell countered with a hot hand of their own: Junior forward Josh Feitl.

Feitl, who has recently seen his playing time increased by Pehl in the last few weeks, had quite a night shooting. Of his 19 points, five field goals fell in from three-point range, and he had several other strong plays under the basket on both ends of the court.

“I am really proud of Josh because these last couple days, he has spent a ton of time in the gym working on his game,” Pehl said. “He worked on his shots from angles and footwork with his shot, and lo and behold, he performs really well and that shot is going down. He put the time in and the work in and he had a nice night.”

Feitl matched every one of Holden’s baskets with, seemingly, one of his own. But Marcus jumped out to an early eight-point first quarter lead at 16-8.

But the Cowboys battled back, as they would all game, scoring eight points in the second period of play, limiting Marcus to just five points, and holding Holden without a basket. Marcus still held a five-point advantage at halftime, 21-16.

At the beginning of the third quarter Holden and Feitl continued their back-and-forth game, sinking shot after shot. For Holden, it seemed like every shot would drop through the net.

“He was a straight shooter,” junior guard Clay Kemp said. “I did not expect that he was going to be that good. If we would have stopped him, we would have easily won the game.”

The third quarter ended with the Marauders leading by four, 33-29.

The fourth quarter proved to be, possibly, the most dramatic period of basketball game this season, besides the fourth quarter against South Grand Prairie.

Junior point guard Landon Goesling, who scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth, worked ferociously to bring the team back in the last quarter. Resiliency is something the Cowboys have had all year, and when they have been down in big games, they have more than answered the call.

“Resiliency is a great word,” Pehl said. “We got down eight or ten points and it was at a key time. When we started face-guarding full-court and we got ourselves into it play by play, and I am not hanging my hat on it, and it did not win us the game, but at the same time, the battle that was in our guys I am proud of.”

Junior forward Simi Socks, who scored six points but was forced to sit on the bench with four fouls, made two key free throws to give Coppell their second lead of the night at 41-40 with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

Because Pehl preaches discipline from the foul line, making lots of “easy twos” was a large part of the game.

“I thought in the second half we did a much better job,” Pehl said. “It was a big emphasis at halftime to stop settling for perimeter shots only. There were some key misses late where we could have put the game away.”

Senior guard Walter Munnings missed two key freebies with 1:15 left in the quarter that could have pushed the lead to two possessions, but both misses turned into a Marcus equalizer to tie the game at 42 with 18.4 seconds remaining.

Pehl called two timeouts to talk things over. Cowboys came out and found junior guard Brandon Watson all alone in the left corner for a wide-open three-pointer, but the ball bounced off the rim right as the buzzer sounded.

In the overtime period, Coppell could not find their shooting rhythm they had kept for the duration of regulation. Fouls to stop the clock were also key, as Marcus made 6-of-8 free throws to get lead to six. Feitl nailed the final Coppell triple of the night to bring the team within 3. But Kemp heaved the ball the length of the court in desperation, and the Cowboys finished on the losing end.

“We were down most of the game, so we had to press the whole time,” Kemp said. “We had a lot of energy to get back in the game. We got into overtime, and they made a couple of shots, and then they made some free throws. We missed some opportunities and the ball just did not bounce our way.”

The Cowboys drop to 0-1 in District 5-5A play, and now prepare to travel to Denton to face off against the Red Raiders of Ryan High School at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

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