Cowboy comeback comes up just short as the Summit Storm takes a 52-47 win over Crook County in IMC action

The?Crook County Cowboys have struggled for most of the year to find their LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Lon Austin/central Oregonian Seth Kessi goes up for two of his 16 points in the Cowboys, 52-42, loss to the Summit Storm on Tuesday. Kessi was one of three Cowboys in double figures in the contest.

Under first-year head coach Darin Kessi, the team has had difficulty scoring points, especially in the Intermountain Hybrid Conference.

Prior to February, the team was dropping league games by an average of 34 points per game.

Not anymore. The Cowboys are still struggling to find a way to win, but at least in the last two games the team has been fiercely competitive.

“I think we are just more in tune with each other,” said Crook County forward Kohlter Kee. “We are way better than before and we are still getting better.”

The Cowboys opened February with a heartbreaking 45-43 loss to the Redmond Panthers, a game they probably should have won. After Friday’s game with Ridgeview was postponed because of severe weather, the Cowboys used the time to work on getting better.

Tuesday night the new and improved Cowboys gave the Summit Storm all they could handle before finally falling 52-47.

“We all decided that, to a man ,when we got an opportunity we’re going to take it,” said Crook County Head Coach Darin Kessi. “And they did. Even though we lost that game we won on a lot of levels.”

The Cowboys were able to slow the tempo early in the contest. Midway through the first period Summit led 8-7. Then Crook County became impatient, throwing up a pair of wild 3-point shots. Summit took advantage of the opportunity and ran to a 17-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Storm led 28-12 midway through the second and it looked like the Cowboys might fold.

“We started the first quarter doing what we said we needed to do,” Kessi said. “Then we started coming down, getting two passes and shooting the ball. I think our first six possessions of the second quarter we took three 3s. I called time out and said ‘if you do this we have no chance.’”

The timeout worked as the Cowboys once again went back to being patient on offense. The strategy began to frustrate the Storm and with just over two minutes remaining in the half, Summit star Nick Moyer was assessed a technical foul.

Blake Bartels converted both free throws and the Cowboys closed out the half on a 6-0 run to close to within 28-18.

The Cowboys continued their run in the third quarter, outscoring the Storm 9-4 to close to 28-32 by the end of the LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Blake Bartels attempts to go to the hoop against the defense of Summits Josh Cherry. No foul was called on the play.

“I think our heads were in the game more,” said starting center Andrew Sofich. “”We hit some key shots when we were being pretty patient with the ball and our energy was really good.”

Summit adjusted to the Crook County defense in the fourth quarter and the two teams went on a scoring spree.

“Summit did a good job of going more to their strengths,” Kessi said of the fourth quarter. “They started trying to pound the ball in a little more.”

The two teams traded baskets the entire quarter. The Cowboys trailed by just three points, 50-47, after Sofich hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds to go.

Crook County called timeout and set up a full court press. However, the Storm were able to break the press and Crook County was forced to foul. Moyer hit both free throws and the Storm held on for the win.

“Even though we lost that game we won on a lot of levels,” Kessi said. “Our team obviously played really good defense and I’m proud of them.”

Seth Kessi led the Cowboy efforts with 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists.

“We executed pretty well,” Kessi said. “I think it’s a new birth kind of. We decided we’re not going to let this slip away. We’re going to grasp onto it and climb out of this hole.”

Sofich added 12 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists, while Kee finished with 10 points.

Kessi noted that although he scored just five points Bartels did a good job defensively on Moyer, holding him to 16 points.

“One of the things I liked about tonight was that when some of our main guys didn’t particularly have a great game other people stepped up and were able to help bridge that gap — which was nice to see.”

With the loss the Cowboys fell to 2-16 overall and 0-10 in the IMC while the Storm moved their record to 10-9 overall and 6-5 in the IMC.

The Cowboys are at home again tonight when they host the Mountain View Cougars.

Crook County has a busy week ahead as they host Ridgeview on Monday and Bend on Tuesday before going on the road on Friday to take on the Redmond Panthers. All four games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Monday’s game with the Ridgeview Ravens is critical for the Cowboys.

With just two teams in Special District I the winner of their three-game series wins the district championship and an automatic play-in contest. With the Cowboys mired in 40th place in the latest power rankings the only hope they have to reach the playoffs is to win the series. Ridgeview won the first meeting so the game is a must-win situation for Crook County.

The game was originally scheduled for last Friday, but was rescheduled due to severe weather conditions.

Summit 52, Crook County 47

at Crook County

Summit (52) — Nick Moyer 16, Michalski 9, O. Garcia 6, Cornett 6, Derman 4, Reeves 5, McCormick 4, Cherry 2, J. Garcia, Hurley, Waterman. Totals 23 4-11 52.

Crook County (47) — Seth Kessi 16, Sofich 12, Kee 10, Bartels 5, Kilthau 2, Villagomez 2, Fahlgren, Cheney, Hernandez, Parker, Lapsley. Totals 16 11-19 47.

Summit 17 11 4 20 — 52

Crook County 9 9 10 19 — 47

Three-point goals — Summit: Reeves, Michalski; Crook County: Kessi 2, Kee, Sofich.

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