The Crook County Cowboys went into Corbett Friday night in a must win situation.
After winning two of their first three league games, the Cowboys dropped three consecutive league contests, falling from third in the Tri-Valley standings all the way to fifth.
That all changed Friday as the Cowboys broke open a close game in the third quarter en route to a 55-49 win against the Cardinals.
The win vaulted the Cowboys back into a tie for third place in the Tri-Valley Conference with the Madras White Buffalos, and back into the post-season hunt.
Behind the hot shooting of Dolan DeFrance and Dylan Paintner, the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead. Corbett still led 16-14 at the end of the first period.
Crook County did a better job defensively in the second quarter, and the two teams went into the locker room at the half tied 28-28.
The Cowboys upped their defensive pressure in the third quarter. With senior guard Keenan Mozingo leading the way, the Cowboys outscored the Cardinals 11-5 in the period to open up a 39-33 lead.
The two teams traded baskets in the fourth quarter, until Corbett was forced to foul late in the game.
Crook County struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 10 of 18 attempts, but it was just enough to hold off any Corbett rally.
The Cardinals were even worse from the line, converting on just 13 of 25 attempts.
Mozingo finished with a game-high 19 points, while senior post Darrien Langley was also in double figures with 10. Chase Bales added eight for the Cowboys, while Thaidan Mullan chipped in with six.
DeFrance scored 15 for Corbett, while Paintner added 13, mostly from long range.
With the win, the Cowboys are now 3-4 in Tri-Valley Conference play and 3-16 overall. Meanwhile, the Cardinals fell to 1-6 in conference play and 3-12 overall.
The Cowboys host Molalla (2-5, 3-13) tonight in another important league matchup. A win would keep the Cowboys in the thick of the playoff race, while a loss would be a huge setback for the team.
Friday night the Cowboys go on the road against league-leading Gladstone (7-0, 12-5) Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Crook County 55, Corbett 49
Crook County (55) — Keenan Mozingo 19, Langley 10, Bales 8, Mullan 6, Shannon 4, Dalton 4, Savage 2, Combee 2. Totals 21 10-18 55.
Corbett (49) — Dolan DeFrance 15, Paintner 13, Oliver 9, Delafield 4, Dentler 4, Allano 2, Ziese 2. Totals 15 13-25 49.
Crook County 14 14 11 16 — 55
Corbett 16 12 5 16 — 49
3 point goals — Crook County: Bales 2, Mozingo; Corbett: Paintner 3, Oliver 2, DeFrance.