In 39-35 loss to Forest Grove, a slow first half doomed the Cougars despite second half comeback

HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby sophomore Diego Arredondo led the team in scoring with 13 points against Forest Grove. 
It was a tale of two halves for the Cougars who welcomed the Forest Grove Vikings on Friday, Dec. 14. After a disastrous first half that saw only eight points for Canby, the Cougars put 27 points up in late comeback that was ultimately not enough. Forest Grove walked away with the 39-35 win.

In the first quarter, Canby managed just five points. In the second quarter, the team managed just three points, courtesy of a senior Rizdin Miller basket from beyond the arc. Conversely, Forest Grove only managed four points in that same quarter. Still, it was not a strong showing from the home team.

"That's three games in a row where we've come out slow," Canby head coach Craig Evans said. "It's all about coming out on fire. When they get pissed off, they start playing hard and that's when we go on our runs. Our shots start hitting because we have a little more adrenaline, but when we come out flat like that against good teams like them…there's a reason they're undefeated, they're a good team. We have to start believing we're a good team too. We have to get off to a better start, match the intensity, and get going."

In the second half, the Cougars flipped a switch. Canby outscored the Vikings 27-19, and was aggressive defensively and attacking the basket on the other end. The third quarter saw sophomore Diego Arredondo hit a trio of baskets, including two 3-pointers. Arredondo led the team in scoring with 13 points.

It was in the fourth quarter when the team really came to life. Trailing 36-21, Canby freshman Alexander Evans and Forest Grove sophomore Braden Hudgins traded baskets, and from there on out it was Canby on the comeback trail.

The team scored seven straight baskets and 14 unanswered points leading up to tense last seconds in the game. Arredondo had five points in the quarter, Evans drained a 3-pointer, sophomore Chance Miller drained a pair of free throws, and sophomores Ben Bailey and Tyler Mead each had a bucket of their own. With 20 seconds left in the game, Canby trailed by just three points.

"Everyone that played in the second half looked good," Evans said. "It was a team thing, energy-wise, we feed off of each other. Young groups feed off of each other. What we need to do is match the intensity, get pumped up, see someone hot and feed off of that and go."

Despite the heavy defensive pressure, Canby was unable to get another basket off. In that time, Forest Grove sank a free throw and took a two possession lead which they rode out en route to a 39-35 victory.

Evans said that he and his coaching personnel are changing up the practices to try and overcome the starts that have plagued his team thus far in the season.

"We've been trying to speed up the start of practices and not try to walk into it, and flip the switch," Evans said. "You know, it's a young team. We have a lot of young guys that need to figure out that this is varsity basketball and you have to come out fired up and ready to go."

Canby's defense came alive in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, limiting Forest Grove to just three points. Canby racked up 10 steals and 1 block over the course of the game.

Canby (1-3) moves on to face Madison (1-4) in another non-league contest on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

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