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The team was unable to get its offense rolling until too late against Oregon City in 64-48 loss

HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby junior Nicole Mickelson attempts to shoot over the Oregon City defense.
Something was off Friday afternoon for the Canby girls' basketball team. Maybe it was the game being moved forward a few hours due to threat of impending snow, maybe it was the 'Pack the Gym' atmosphere, maybe it was some amalgam of the two. But one thing is for certain, the Cougars were overwhelmed by the visiting Oregon City Pioneers on Friday, Feb. 8, losing 64-48.

Canby found itself down early in the first quarter, and trailed 28-18 at the half. Junior Ally Odell had 6 points in the first half, and fellow junior Naarai Gomez had 3 points.

"No frustration with the players at all, none," Canby head coach Chuck Knight said. "We came out, kind of got punched in the mouth a little bit, and didn't respond right away, and dug a hole early. That kind of set the tone of playing from behind the whole game."

Heading into the second half, Canby found itself falling behind further still. Baskets from Oregon City junior Katie Kathan kept the Pioneers firmly entrenched in the lead. It was a rough third quarter for the Cougars, who wound up trailing 52-28 heading into the final stanza of the game.

In the final quarter Canby finally got its legs under it, and went to work on the offensive end. Canby's Odell had 8 points in the quarter, and freshman Joey Baguio had 6 of her own. From the field, the home team made 10 baskets to Oregon City's 3. Despite the strong offensive output, it was not enough to erase the 24 point deficit Canby entered the fourth quarter with. Oregon City walked away with the win 64-48.

While it was ultimately not the result that Canby looked for, there were some positive aspects of the game that came out. One that coach Knight noticed, and has noticed throughout the season, was the team's consistent effort on the court.

"I told them in between the third and fourth quarters to just keep playing," Knight said. "'We have eight minutes to go.' I think you build resiliency and mental toughness when you play hard for 32 minutes no matter if you're up 20 or down 20, whatever."

"That's a resilient team, and when you build and compete for 32 minutes regardless of the score, if the game's over win or lose, let's focus on the next one," Knight continued. "I'm really proud of our kids for the mental toughness that they show. I know we'll come out Monday, or whenever it is, and play hard and go from there."

The other positives to take away from the game were the development of key members of Canby's varsity personnel. Junior Ally Odell has come a long way from being just a solid rebounder; now the 5 foot 11 inch junior is putting up good scoring numbers from all over the inside of the arc.

"All her life she's been told to play defense and rebound, and so the habit you have on the court is to do those things and make the pass to the next player," Knight said. "So, it's a tough habit to break, and she's shown glimpses here and there, and tonight was another example where she took another step in the right direction. We'll just keep encouraging her to be aggressive and to shoot."

Freshman Joey Baguio is another of Canby's squad who has shown continued growth over the course of the season. According to Knight, the sky's the limit for the athletic guard.

"Joey, and some other freshman that aren't necessarily playing varsity but are playing at our lower levels, bring a lot of energy and athleticism," Knight said. "Joey is a super athlete and it's a matter of experience for her. She's always wondering, 'Why didn't I do this or that?' I said, 'Because you're learning on the fly. You've never played at this level.' It takes time and patience. She will make some mistakes, and with her athleticism she'll do some great things too."

Canby (4-6 in Three Rivers League play, 8-13 overall) sit ranked No. 32 in the 6A rankings. The Cougars will have a chance to rebound against West Linn (8-2 in TRL play, 15-5 overall) on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

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