Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
PHIL CAMPBELL - Scoring points was not a problem for the Phil Campbell Bobcats on Monday night.
Preventing Rece Looser and Ken Cupp from doing the same proved far more challenging.
Muscle Shoals' dynamic duo combined for 50 points and repeatedly stopped Phil Campbell's momentum with key baskets, leading the visiting Trojans to an 86-73 win.
Cupp finished with a game-high 26 points, almost all of them coming in the paint, and Looser made five three-pointers and scored 24.
"Rece really hurt us with those threes tonight," Phil Campbell coach Kelly Kiser said. "And we just didn't have the athleticism to match up with Cupp on the inside. It seemed like when we focused on guarding the perimeter, they would dump it inside to Cupp and he would score. Then when we packed it in to take away their inside game, Rece would knock down a three. That makes it tough on you defensively."
The Bobcats had no such trouble on offense, scoring 45 points in the second half and 28 in the fourth quarter.
"We did a good job of executing our offense, and we had a bunch of different guys step up," said senior guard Matt Thomas, who finished with 19 points. "We really played as a team, especially in the second half."
The Trojans matched the Bobcats shot for shot, however, out-scoring Phil Campbell 22-17 in the third quarter and 29-28 in the fourth.
"Everything we did, they had an answer for," Kiser said. "That's the sign of a good basketball team, of a well-coached basketball team."
After falling behind by as many as 17 points midway through the second quarter, the Bobcats battled back to within five on a basket by Thomas to open the second half.
Looser responded with a layup and a three-pointer to spark a 9-0 run by Muscle Shoals. Cupp finished off the spurt with a putback to give the Trojans a 44-30 lead with 6:00 left in the third quarter.
"We got the lead down to five, but the next thing I know I look up and we're down 14," Kiser said. "We did a good job getting back in the game, but we've got to learn how to go ahead and finish off that comeback."
The Bobcats mounted another rally in the fourth quarter behind the hot shooting of Jerry Jenkins and Eric Glasgow.
Jenkins, who scored all 14 of his points over the final 11 minutes, nailed three treys in the fourth quarter, and Glasgow scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
"That was probably our best offensive quarter of the year," Kiser said. "Jerry Jenkins knocked down some big shots for us in the second half, and that gave us a big boost."
Phil Campbell cut the lead to 57-48 on a trey by Jenkins to start the fourth, but Cupp responded with six quick points as the lead swelled to 13.
Another three by Jenkins trimmed the lead to 10 with 4:50 left, but Looser answered with his fifth and final trey to push the lead back to 13.
After a three-point play by Thomas whittled the lead down to 10 again, Bryant Starkey came back with a three-point play for Muscle Shoals.
Jenkins drained another three to make it 71-61 with 3:55 left, but Greg Johnson answered with a trey to keep the Bobcats at arm's length.
Cupp followed with a layup on a nice feed from Looser to give the Trojans a 76-61 lead with 3:10 left.
"They just have so many weapons, and they execute everything perfectly," Thomas said.
Kyle Nix had seven points for the Bobcats, and Randy Cochran had six.
Johnson and Joel Sessions each added 12 points for Muscle Shoals.
Kiser said the Bobcats can benefit from facing a talented, athletic team like the Class 5A Trojans this late in the season.
"You don't like to take the loss, but if we can build on it and use it to better prepare ourselves for the area tournament, then we will have done what I hoped to accomplish," he said. "That's why you schedule games like this for late in the year. It's all geared towards making you better for the area tournament."
The Bobcats will face county rival Belgreen on Friday, February 11, in the first round of the Class 2A, Area 16 tournament.