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After being blown out in the first two days of tournamentn Cowboys stay closer, but still fall in remaining two games

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - Devin Bishop drives to the basket during the Cowboys' game against Redmond earlier this year. Bishop came off the bench to score 10 points in the Cowboys' loss to the North Salem Vikings Friday morning in the final round of the Capital City Classic. The Crook County Cowboys dropped their final two games in the Capital City Classic basketball tournament, to finish 0-4 in the two-day event.

After being blown out by Woodcreek, California, and Clackamas in the first two days of the tournament, which was held at Willamette University, the Cowboys continued to struggle offensively on the final two days of the event.

Thursday, the Cowboys fell to Stayton 61-41, before being defeated by North Salem 62-43 Friday morning.

The Cowboys fell behind early in Thursday's game against the Stayton Eagles and could never recover as Stayton steadily increased their lead.

"Stayton was really big," Crook County head coach Darin Kessi said. "They had three kids that were big. When we watched them against Corvallis they weren't that effective, but when they played us they came out with really good energy and they jumped on us early. Their bigs were pretty impressive against us."

Kaleb Anundi, a 6-8 junior post, was unstoppable against the Cowboysn scoring 26 points. Many of those points came on offensive rebounds as Anundi and the rest of the Eagles pounded the glass.

No other information about the Stayton game was available at press time.

The North Salem game was a totally different story. The Cowboys hung close for much of the game.

The Cowboys were in Friday's game until midway through the third quarter. Crook County fell behind 13-6 after one period, and still trailed 24-17 at the half.

However, the team rallied early in the third quarter to close to within three points at 28-31.

That was as close as they would get. Foul problems ultimately proved disastrous. Guard Chase Bales fouled out and Devin Bishop sat on the bench for much of the second half with four fouls.

North Salem took advantage of the Crook County foul trouble and pulled away, finishing the third period with a 9-0 run to pull away to a 40-28 lead.

North Salem kept pushing the advantage, outscoring Crook County 22-15 in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings shot 23 free throws in the game, converting just 12 of them.

However, the Cowboys were able to get to the free-throw line just eight times in the contest, making just three of their attempts.

Thaiden Mullan kept Crook County in the game early on, hitting three 3-point shots en route to a team high 13 points.

Bishop also finished in double figures with 10, while Will Combee added six and Bales five.

North Salem's Jayden Meade led all scorers, putting up 19 points, while Braden Vasquez added 13 for the Vikings.

"We were just off defensively all day today," Kessi said. "Missing assignments — missing rotations. We just we weren't good enough defensively. We have to be a team that brings our best effort for 32 minutes. Right now we're not that team."

With the loss, the Cowboys have now dropped six consecutive games. After starting the season 2-2, the team is now 2-8.

"I honestly thought that we would respond better from a competitive standpoint" Kessi said of the four-day tournament. "I thought that we would rise up to that level of competition and just go out and really compete with them and say 'Heh, we are here and even though we may not be as good as you, we are still going to come at you.' We really didn't see that develop, but we did expose some things that showed that we need to get better."

The win was the first win of the year for North Salem, which improved to 1-9 on the season.

"We have to come out of this," Kessi said of the four losses in the tournament. "We have to work harder in practice and bring better intensity. We have to work on our weaknesses and have a better sense of urgency and I feel like there was some good processing of that."

The Cowboys do not play again until Friday, Jan. 5, when they host the Sweet Home Huskies (5-4) in a 7:15 p.m. matchup. Then, Wednesday, Jan. 10 the Cowboys host The Dalles in a 7 p.m. contest.

"We are a team that has pretty good team chemistry and I think they are going to build off of that," Kessi said. "We have some practice time before the Sweet Home game and I think that they are going to figure it out and they are going to keep getting better. Sweet Home and The Dalles will reveal a lot about how we responded."

Stayton 61, Crook County 41

Wednesday, December 20

At Willamette University

No other information available.

North Salem 62, Crook County 43

Friday, December 22

At Willamette University

North Salem 13 11 16 22 — 62

Crook County 6 11 11 15 — 43

North Salem — Jayden Meade 19, Braden Vasquez 13, Phavor Swank 9, JD Drioji 5, Tameron Hampton 5, Zac Sullivan 5, Rene Romero 4, Chris Davis 2 Paul Gideon. Totals: 23 12-23 63.

Crook County — Thaiden Mullan 13, Devin Bishop 10, Will Combee 6, Chase Bales 5, Shane Kessi 3, Jordan Graydon 2, Dominic Langley 2, Hunter Bishop 2, Holt Porfily, Jacob Kasberger. Totals: 18 3-6 43.

Three-point goals — North Salem: Vasquez 2, Hampton, Drioji. Crook County: Mullan 3, Bales.

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