SHAWNEE—For the first half, the North Rock Creek Cougars, comprised of all freshman, gave the Class 2A No. 14 Allen Mustangs all they could handle.

In the end, age and height won out as the Mustangs pulled away for a 61-37 win in the opening round of the Pottawatomie. County Basketball Tournament.

The Mustangs led 13-7 after the first quarter on the strength of Hunter Simpson’s six points in the paint and bumped the advantage up to 15-8 with 6:00 left in the half. That’s when the Cougars Noah McMullan caught fire, hitting back-to-back treys to cut the lead to 15-14 with 4:18 left.

Two more Simpson hoops made the count 19-14 at the 2:48 mark, but the young Cougars responded once again.

Diego Garcia scored a bucket for North Rock Creek to cut it deficit down to 19-16 before Carter Harvey hit a three-pointer with 2:07 to pull even with the Mustangs at 19-19.

Allen responded with a 6-0 run to end the half with a 25-19 lead, which was a sign of more to come in the second half.

The Mustangs went to the paint early and often in the second half and built a 43-30 lead after three quarters. Once again, Simpson scored six more points in the paint in the quarter. The Mustangs outscored North Rock Creek 18-11 in the third. The Cougars’ Jamarian Jenkins scored seven of the Cougars 11 third quarter points.

Allen scored 18 more points in the fourth to pull away and advance into Thursday night’s semifinals. They will play the winner of today’s Wellston – Wetumka contest.

Simpson led all scorers with 18 points. He was joined in double digit scoring by Chad Milne, with 14 and Tadyn Walker’s 13 points.

McMullan led North Rock Creek with 14, including four bombs. Harvey added nine for the Cougars and Jenkins finished with eight.

The Cougars will face the loser of the Wellston – Wetumka game Friday night at 8:00 pm.

All games of the Pott County Tournament are being played at North Rock Creek School.