The Cougars are looking to make their fourth appearance in a row at the Class 1A state championship game

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS - Country Christian junior Sarah Phillips lines up a free throw during the Cougars' 48-31 win over Damascus Christian at home last season. Head coach: Russell Halverson, 14th season

2016-2017 record: 22-8 overall, 9-1 league; Class 1A second place and Valley 10 League co-Champions

Three-year record: 74-15, 33-1

Final OSAA power ranking: 4

Last playoff appearance: 2016-2017 season, advanced to the Class 1A championship game for the third year in a row, lost 39-68 to Nixyaawii

Seniors lost: None

Key returners: Senior Mollie Lewandowski, First Team All-State and Valley 10 Player of the Year; senior Anna Farner, First Team All-State; senior Meghan McGrath, Second Team All-State; senior Debby Grandle, Second Team All-League; junior Sarah Phillips, All-League Honorable Mention; senior Jasmine Griffith, All-League Honorable Mention

Season outlook: The Cougars will be looking to appear in their fourth Class 1A state championship game in a row as they return every player from last year's squad except for junior Hannah Fincher, whom transferred to Molalla.

Making up the largest chunk of the team is the senior class that has been the backbone of the program for the past several years. It includes First Team All-State winner Mollie Lewandowski, who is a threat from all over the court and showcases a powerful presence under the basket, often punishing teams and allowing them only one shot per possession as she grabs up any rebound within sight. Meghan McGrath will be another key component on both sides of the ball, along with Jasmine Griffith, Sierra Ross, and Debby Grandle. Last year's First Team All-State winner Anna Farner is still working on the rehabilitation process after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery a few months ago, and the Cougars will no doubt be looking to get her back at 100 percent if they want a shot at making it back to the championship game. PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS - Country Christian senior Mollie Lewandowski guards a Damascus Christian player during the Cougars' 48-31 win last season.

Returning juniors Sarah Phillips and Katie Sandberg will continue their large roles on both sides of the ball again this year, as both players stepped up last season and showcased their pure athletic abilities and made their way into starting roles. Filling out the rest of the rotation are juniors Kendall Halverson and Emily Casterline, along with sophomore Jera Warrington.

Much of the Cougars' team is made up of a group of players that just came off of their fourth volleyball state title in a row, and they'll be looking to ride that momentum into basketball season and continue to show that they're a Class 1A powerhouse.

The Cougars start of the preseason with a tough schedule, beginning with some jamboree play against Western Mennonite and Molalla, and will then travel to Powder Valley and Baker for some challenging away matchups as they'll then return home to take on Class 4A Valley Catholic, followed by the Cougar Classic.

First game: The Cougars will host Western Mennonite on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m. for jamboree play

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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