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Senior Nicole Mickelson led the Cougars with 14 points, Thompson and Mead added 13 and 12

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Canby senior Nicole Mickelson attempts to dribble past Mountainside senior Cameron Brink Tuesday night.

Canby entered the season believing it could play with anybody.

In Tuesday night's home opener, the Cougars proved it, knocking off Mountainside 51-44.

The Mavericks, who entered the game 2-0 with wins over Clackamas and Sherwood, were ranked No. 3 in the Class 6A coaches poll largely due to the addition of 6-5 senior forward Cameron Brink, a Stanford commit and the No. 3 prospect in the country, according to ESPN's Class of 2020 rankings.

"On a given night there's probably 20 teams that could beat us, but there's not one team that we can't beat," Canby head coach Chuck Knight said. "That means if we bring it every night we can give ourselves a chance, so I think this (win) shows that. They are definitely, there's no question, one of the best teams in the state with the personal that they have, and they're going to get better, and we will, too. It shows us that we can compete with anybody. We've got to just bring it and be confident and play and we've got a shot."

Canby, who blew a seven-point fourth-quarter lead at Forest Grove on Friday, Dec. 6 to lose its season opener, fell behind 13-2 against Mountainside before getting its first field goal of the game from freshman guard Allie Mead with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter.

"We talked in the huddle, we're playing fine, we're just not hitting shots," Knight said. "Keep doing what we're doing. Keep shooting with confidence and we'll get back in this thing. The scoreboard didn't look good, but I think we felt OK about the way we were playing and just stuck with what we were doing."

With Brink, who scored nine points in the first period, picking up her second foul and spending the entire second quarter on the bench, the Cougars went on an 18-2 run to take a 23-22 lead at halftime.

Mead knocked down a 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining and then senior forward Nicole Mickelson scored on a layup off a Mountainside turnover to give Canby the lead.

With Brink back in the game for the second half, the Cougars and Mavericks went to the fourth quarter tied 35-35.

But Canby was dealing with its own foul trouble. After senior post Ally Odell was called for her third foul with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter, Mickelson, who had 10 points in the period, picker up her fourth foul with a minute to go.

Mead gave Canby a 37-35 lead to begin the fourth quarter on an assist from senior point guard Naarai Gomez.

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Canby senior Arika Evans puts up a shot against Mountainside.

Senior guard Arika Evans then ripped the ball away from a driving Brink and found junior Zoe Thompson for an open 3 to give the Cougars a 40-35 lead.

Thompson then made two free throws to extend Canby's advantage to 42-35.

"I just stayed calm and acted like it was a normal free throw, like it was practice," said Thompson, who went 6-for-9 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

Mickelson, who led Canby with 14 points, checked back into the game with 3:45 remaining.

"It was hard," Mickelson said of playing with four fouls. "I had to think a lot more on my defense and making sure I wasn't taking risky fouls and trying not to block as much, just stand my ground."

After Mountainside got within 45-44 with 3:01 remaining, Odell made two free throws, and Brink missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

The Cougars got stops on defense and made enough free throws down the stretch to finish off the Mavericks.

"I think this will scare a lot of other teams," said Thompson, who had 13 points in the victory. "We definitely came together as a team and moved the ball a lot better, and executed much better than last game."

Mead added 12 points in her first varsity home game.

Brink, who transferred to Mountainside from Southridge, where she won two state titles, finished with 19 points to lead all scorers.

"We're able to have two pretty versatile defenders in Nicole (Mickelson) and Ally (Odell) that can play on the block or out on the perimeter, so at least it gives you a fighting chance," Knight said. "We just talked to the other kids about digging down when you can and crashing the boards. It was really just being scrappy. She's (Brink) going to get hers. You've got to try to make it as tough as possible."

The win comes after Canby lost to Mountainside without Brink last season.

"She's a phenomenal player," Mickelson said of Brink. "She's got a really good shot and it was hard to defend her down low. I think she's got great moves. She can shoot. She can do it all. Our idea was to come together and play as one and just give it our all."

While the win was nice, the Cougars are just getting started.

"I think we've got a long ways to go," Mickelson said. "Our team is very good. We've got young girls that have a lot of talent. I think we have a really bright future. We have a long ways to go. It's just the beginning."

Derek Wiley
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