PORTLAND -- Canby got its first taste of the state playoffs since 2016 on Wednesday night.
But the No. 28 Cougars were one and done, after falling at No. 5 Central Catholic 68-49.
"There's some nerves coming into it, first time, something different, but also excitement," Canby junior Diego Arredondo said. "They're a good team, not the team you want to play the first time coming into the playoffs."
Canby sophomore Alexander Evans made two 3-pointers to give the Cougars an early 6-4 lead.
Baskets by junior Aftanom Ovchinnikoff gave Canby an 8-6 lead and then later tied the game at 10-10, but a 3-pointer by Central Catholic senior DeRay Seamster put the Rams ahead for good at the end of the first quarter.
After Central Catholic outscored the Cougars 10-2 to start the second period, Arredondo made two shots to keep Canby in the game. But the Rams buried two 3-pointers in the final 45 seconds, including one by sophomore Jordan King at the buzzer to take a 31-19 lead into halftime.
Central Catholic stretched its lead to 40-24 in the third quarter and had a 48-37 advantage entering the fourth after hitting another shot at the buzzer.
But a 3-point play by Ovchinnikoff, followed by a putback by Riley Knutson after another 3-point attempt by Ovchinnikoff rimmed out, got the Cougars within 48-42 with 6:55 to go.
Canby knew the Rams had blown similar leads to Gresham and Sandy earlier in the season.
"We knew they had a tendency to let it go at the end so we still had a shot," Arredondo said. "That just kept us going."
But the Cougars could not get any closer than six points, as Central Catholic answered with a 10-0 run, all from junior Darius Gakwasi, to finish off Canby.
"We just didn't shoot well, said Arredondo, who finished with seven points. "If we shot better, that's a game we can win. They're really athletic and big so it's really hard to get inside with those 6-8 and 6-7 guys, it's hard to shoot over them."
Ovchinnikoff scored 24 points to lead the Cougars, battling in the paint against Central Catholic's length.
"I think I'm up there with them," said the 6-3 Ovchinnikoff. "I don't really think I'm shorter than them. I used my body more and flew around a lot. I just really tried to help the team out and I shot pretty well."
Canby made just 4 of 20 3-point attempts at Central Catholic.
"We didn't hit shots, and that's not our recipe for success," Canby coach Craig Evans said. "We've got to hit shots. If we're hitting, it's a new ball game."
The Cougars return all five starters next season as well as junior Ben Bailey, who missed the last six weeks of the season after breaking his wrist against West Linn on Jan. 24.
"We think we'll have a great team next year," Arredondo said. "We still have to put in a lot of work, but we have a lot of potential. Now that we have that (playoff) experience, we won't have the nerves. We'll shoot better, hopefully."
More photos at derekwiley.smugmug.com.
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