Hunter Johnson led Mabel-Canton scoring with 25 points during the Cougars’ game against Fillmore Central in the subsection quarterfinals last Saturday. Here he shoots over Fillmore Central’s Carter Rindels.  CRAIG MOORHEAD/NEWS-RECORD
Hunter Johnson led Mabel-Canton scoring with 25 points during the Cougars’ game against Fillmore Central in the subsection quarterfinals last Saturday. Here he shoots over Fillmore Central’s Carter Rindels. CRAIG MOORHEAD/NEWS-RECORD
Traveling to Preston for a 1A East subsection quarterfinals match against third-seeded Fillmore Central, the sixth-seeded Cougars took the lead with some fancy outside shooting and then held off a determined set of Falcons, winning 71-56.

When the same teams played at the Fillmore Central elementary back in January, the Falcons won 57-56. This time around, senior guard Noah Manning seemed set on getting the Cougars off to a flying start. After FC took a 2-0 lead, he scored a three-point goal, then another from beyond the arc within minutes to put M-C up 13-8. Triples were catching. Teammate Hunter Johnson soon began to hit from downtown, and when junior guard Keyser Wenthold did likewise - from well outside the line - M-C took a 23-11 lead.

The Falcons played catch-up from then on, cutting the margin to nine at the half, but never getting any closer. Both teams played with abandon, hitting the floor in attempts to pick off passes or knock the ball from the grasp of opponents. Unfortunately for the home team, the visitors seemed to have an answer for each gutsy FC play.

The Cougars scored on seven of 11 triple tries, hitting an excellent 63.6 percent from three-point land. Fillmore Central launched even more, but only got two of 16 (12.5 percent) to fall. M-C hit 40.5 percent from two-point range, while FC scored on 34.6 percent. The Cougars also managed to hold off the Falcons down the stretch by out-scoring their opponents at the foul line, hitting 20 of 30 tries (66.7 percent) while FC got 14 of 26 (53.8 percent).

M-C surged to a 21-point second-half lead before FC clawed back to within 14. Both teams finished in the double bonus. FC ended up with 25 fouls, while the Cougars committed 20. M-C enjoyed a 47-38 rebounding margin.

Johnson led all scorers with 25 points. He drained three of four from three-point land and six of eight from the charity stripe. Manning went two for four from beyond the arc, scoring 15. Donnie Lind was also in double figures, with 11 points. Mac Nelson came off the bench for eight points, while Wenthold added seven (including two of three treys).

Lind led on the backboards with 12. He also blocked four shots. Manning grabbed 10 rebounds, while Johnson had seven. Wenthold also had seven boards, while Collin O'Bieglo came down with five.

Manning passed for nine assists while Johnson dished for four. Justin Ward came in for four assists with only one turnover.

On the defensive end, Manning lifted three steals while Lind snagged two. Ward also had two steals.

The Falcons were led by senior forward Nick Powell, who finished his high school career with 20 points and 18 rebounds. Carter Rindels netted 10, while Quentin Case came down with nine rebounds and scored five points.

The Cougars advanced to the subsection semi-final round at Mayo Civic Auditorium on Tuesday, Feb. 25. They played second-seeded Spring Grove at 7:30 p.m. Those results were not yet available when the News-Record went to press. The winner of that game will return to the same venue on Saturday, March 1, for the subsection championship. That game tips off at 11 a.m.