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After disastrous first half, Cougars hang tough against the Lions with strong third quarter

HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Senior Jacob Huggins had three offensive rebounds in the game against West Linn on Feb. 2. Canby—The Cougars kept things close early, but after a few minutes into the first quarter, the Lions dominated the court. In a scoring stretch that saw West Linn put up some dynamic points. After Canby junior Rizdin Miller sank a three to put Canby up, the only Cougar's lead of the night, West Linn senior Jalen Thompson answered in kind, draining a bucket from outside the three point line. Junior Drayton Caoile had seven points in the streak, and sophomore Bryson Crockett sank a three of his own.

14 West Linn points later, Canby senior and leader Wade Brewer scored five points at the end of the quarter to stem some of the bleeding. After the first eight minutes, West Linn controlled the game 24-14. HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - West Linn's Micah Garrett had 13 points and three assists in West Linn's 61-44 win over Canby.

"The first half we had a lot of energy coming out, we shared the ball a lot, and definitely a good game to come out after our Tigard loss," West Linn senior Jalen Thompson said after the game. "We definitely needed a game where we come out strong and played well. In the second half we came out with a little less energy, which we shouldn't have done, and kind of let them back in. But we have to bring it for a full game."

Things would get worse for Canby in the second quarter. Neither team got anything going right away, but about two and a half minutes in West Linn took off. A 15 point scoring streak was undertaken by the bigger, more physical Lions. Senior Ahmir McGee scored eight points for West Linn, and Thompson added five more to the mix. Senior Keishon Dawkins added the final bucket in the string.

To hear the Lions head coach Tyler Toney say it, the key was hustle and sharing the ball.

"We played really hard, and the other part is that we really shared the ball," Toney said. "I know we had 43 points at half, and we had 11 assists at halftime which is a great number with free throws. Passing the ball, playing hard. Our motto is 'We over me' and we don't always do that. It's really hard to do that, and it's really hard to get high school kids to understand that. We're getting to the point where they realize it's we over me."

Again it was Canby's Brewer who broke the streak, draining a three point basket and two free throws to end the quarter. As the teams were leaving the court, West Linn's Dawkins got hit with a technical foul, and Canby would come back with two free throws. At the end of the first half, it was Canby trailing 19-43.

Coming out of halftime though, Canby would find a groove. In an impressive display of defense, the Cougars held the explosive Lions offense to just six points in the third quarter.

It was all about dictating the pace, according to senior Jacob Huggins.

"We just did what coach told us to do, we needed to be patient, wait for open opportunities, take it to the hole and be aggressive," Huggins said.

It was not just that the team was determined to dictate the pace; according to Canby head coach Craig Evans, the team was determined to hold the Lions to single digits.

"In the second half, we were determined to dictate the pace," Evans said. "We did that. Our goal coming out of halftime was a single digit quarter by them. If you look in their scorebook, I don't they have had a single digit quarter very many times. That was us, that was what we wanted to do. I am very proud of our guys in that second half. They didn't quit, and they very easily could have."

Canby also chipped away at the imposing West Linn lead. Brewer sank the two free throws to start the quarter, and another three pointer down the road. Canby senior Skyler Castleman hit a three pointer as well, and senior Antonio Arredondo and junior Rizdin Miller also sank a pair of baskets. To end the quarter, West Linn was up 51-31 on Canby.

Canby continued to battle back in the final stanza. Antonio Arredondo hit another two baskets, and the Cougars slowly closed in on the Lions. Still, when the final horn sounded West Linn had claimed the lead 61-44.

Canby (2-6 in TRL, 6-12 overall) moves on to face Tualatin next Tuesday, and West Linn faces Lake Oswego on Tuesday as well.

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