Late rally comes up just short as Cowgirls fall 36-35 to the Outlaws in season opener

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Liz Barker goes to the hoop during the fourth quarter of the Cowgirls' 36-35 loss to the Sisters Outlaws on Friday. Barker finished with five points and eight rebounds in the contest. The Crook County Cowgirls gave the Sisters Outlaws all they could handle, but came up just short as the Outlaws took a 36-35 victory Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

"Defensively, I thought the girls did a great job," Crook County head basketball coach Heidi Lea said. "I told my girls that I was pleased with everybody. The kids stepping on the floor and the kids who were sitting on the bench. They all were involved and excited."

The Outlaws took a 31-24 lead into the fourth quarter and still held a seven-point lead with just 1:48 remaining in the contest, before the Cowgirls staged a furious rally.

When freshman Liz Barker scored a 3-point play on an offensive put-back and a foul shot with four seconds to play, the Cowgirls were within one. However, Crook County was unable to foul as Sisters ran out the clock, preserving their victory.

The Outlaws were led by Alexa Stewart, who scored a game-high 19 points. Meaghan Greaney and Gracen Sundstrom each added five points for Sisters.

Crook County was led by freshman Teagan Freeman with 12 points, while seniors Sarah Connolly and Emma Ackley each scored six, and Barker finished with five.

The Cowgirls jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. However, the Outlaws capitalized on Crook County turnovers as they quickly overcame the deficit and took the lead.

Sisters led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter and 22-18 at the half as they took advantage of 21 Crook County first-half turnovers.

"Our goal going into the second half was cutting the turnovers down," Lea said. "The second half we only had 10, so we cut them, but like I told the girls, we aren't going to win games with 31 turnovers."

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Emma Ackley goes to the hoop for two of her six points during the Cowgirls one-point loss to the Sisters Outlaws last Friday. Sisters did a good job of forcing the action in the third quarter, driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line as the Cowgirls picked up a series of fouls.

As a result, the Outlaws were able to extend their lead before the late Cowgirl charge.

The Outlaws also struggled with turnovers, picking up 18 in the contest.

After grabbing just one rebound in the first quarter, the Cowgirls were aggressive on the boards the remainder of the contest, outrebounding the Outlaws 35-21 in the game.

Barker led the Cowgirls in rebounds with eight, while Ackley finished with seven, McKinzee Mode six, and Grace Kasberger five.

Sydney Head led the Outlaws in rebounds with five.

Despite the turnovers, the Cowgirls still had plenty of opportunities to win the game. However, they made just three of 14 free throws while the Outlaws converted 10 of 24.

Despite the loss, Connolly, one of the Cowgirls' team captains, was pleased with how well the team played.

"I think it was a good start," she said. "I think there was a huge improvement from the end of last year. We have put in a lot of hours in the off season to grow to where we are right now."

Lea was also pleased with how the team performed.

"I thought the girls held their composure well," she said. "The girls are excited because we scored 35 points, and I think that is a good starting point to go from."

Lea added that she was pleased with the play of her younger players, especially Freeman and Barker.

"Teagan and Liz stepped up," she said. "Teagan hit a couple of threes and got us back in it, and Liz is just so athletic and she can get things done."

Crook County has a busy week ahead. They are back in action tonight when they host the Ridgeview Ravens (0-1) in a 7 p.m. game. The Cowgirls are on the road again on Friday and Saturday when they play in a tournament at Philomath. The Cowgirls will play Waldport at 6 p.m. Friday, while game time and the opponent for Saturday are yet to be determined.

Sisters 36, Crook County 35

Friday, December 2

At Crook County

Sisters 12 10 9 5 — 36

Crook County 8 10 6 11 — 35

Sisters Alexa Stewart 19, Sundstrom 5, Greaney 5, Huber 3, Head 2, Hougham 2. Totals: 13 10-24 36.

Crook County — Freeman 12, Connolly 6, Ackley 6, Barker 5, Kasberger 4, Tramel-Green 2. Totals: 15 3-14 35.

Three-point goals — Sisters: None. Crook County: Freeman 2.

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