After losing badly Thursday night Cowboys drops a pair of close games Friday and Saturday at Les Schwab South Coast Classic

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - Chase Bales goes to the basket during a game against Redmond earlier this year. Bales led the Cowboys in scoring at the Les Schwab South Coast Basketball Tournament with 34 points during the three-game tournament.The Crook County Cowboys had their chances but came up short as they went 0-3 at the Les Schwab South Coast Classic over the weekend.

A slow third quarter proved costly in the opening round, as the Cowboys fell 54-36 to Junction City Thursday night in Marshfield.

Friday and Saturday were a different story as Crook County was in the games to the end but still lost 39-37 to North Valley on Friday, then fell 42-41 to North Bend on Saturday.

"We had so many good shots that just wouldn't go," Crook County head basketball coach Darin Kessi said. "And it was the right guys shooting, too. So it wasn't like I was upset with it."

Friday evening, Junction City outscored Crook County 21-11 in the third quarter to open up a close game.

The Cowboys had trailed just 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, and 26-17 at the half.

Trailing 47-28 going into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys tried to rally, but Junction City made their free throws down the stretch as they coasted to the easy win.

The lone Cowboy in double figures in the game was senior guard Chase Bales, who finished with 14 points.

Thaiden Mullan added six points for the Cowboys, while Kaleb Savage chipped in with five.

Colton Ditlefsen led Junction City with 11, while Trae Knabe added 11.

Friday night, the Cowboys had plenty of opportunities to win.

The Cowboys led 6-4 after one quarter and 14-13 at the half.

At one time, they held a 6-point lead in the third quarter, and still led 27-44 at the end of the period.

Crook County still led until late in the game when North Valley went on a run to take a brief lead.

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - Thaiden Mullan goes up for a jump shot during a game earlier this year. Mullan scored 17 points on Friday.A Mullan 3-point basket tied the game at 37-37 with less than 10 seconds to go before North Valley drove the length of the court, scoring with 2.5 seconds to go to earn the win.

The Cowboys stayed in the game with a strong defensive effort, but struggled offensively all night.

The team shot under 30 percent from the floor in the contest. More importantly, they went 0-8 from the free-throw line in the 2-point loss.

Mullan led the Cowboys in scoring with 17 points in the contest, while Bales added eight points.

Christian Wytcherley led North Valley with 18 points.

After the tough loss on Friday, the Cowboys came out sluggish on Saturday against North Bend.

The Bulldogs took a 16-11 lead at the end of the first period and led 22-17 at the half.

The Cowboys closed to within three at the end of the third quarter, trailing 32-29 going into the final frame.

Crook County still trailed by six midway through the fourth and final period before making a late run.

Chase Bales made a pair of fourth-quarter threes as the Cowboys briefly took the lead.

"We actually led by one and then we let them drive the length of the court and get fouled on the shot," Kessi said. "They made the free throws and then we tied it again with about 30 seconds left."

Crook County was able to get a defensive stop on North Bend's next possession and according to Kessi got a good shot, but missed.

"They called a foul on us on the rebound," Kessi said. "We had 10 fouls against us, so that put them in the double bonus. The kid hit the first shot and that put them up one."

The Cowboys got the rebound when the second free throw was missed.

Crook County called time out to set up a final play.

However, North Bend had just three team fouls. As soon as the Cowboys threw the ball inbounds, the Bulldogs fouled.

The Cowboys took the ball out of bounds again and once again the Bulldogs fouled, leaving just 1.2 seconds on the clock.

On their final attempt to inbound the ball, the Cowboys were able to get a desperation shot from half court. The shot missed and North Bend held on for the 1-point victory.

"We came out today and responded in the right way," Kessi said. "The kids shared the ball really well, we just came up a little short. We put ourselves in a position to win, and we just didn't get it done."

Like on Friday, Crook County struggled from the free-throw line in the contest, going just 2-8 on the night.

"If we just make half of our free throws, we win both games," Kessi said. "And that would still be just shooting 50 percent."

Bales led the Cowboys in scoring with 12, while Mullan added seven.

North Bend was led by Randy Vader, who finished with 15.

With the three losses, the Cowboys fell to 2-5 on the season.

Crook County is back in action today in the first round of the five-day Capital City Classic, which will be held in Salem.

The Cowboys play Woodcreek, California, today.

The Cowboys are expected to play Mater Dei, California, or North Salem in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday.

"There are going to be some tough games in Salem," Kessi said. "But we can work on our execution and handling pressure and playing tough defense. It can still be good."

Junction City 54, Crook County 36

Thursday, December 14

At Marshfield

Crook County 11 6 11 8 — 36

Junction City 12 14 21 7 54

Crook County — Chase Bales 14, Mullan 6, Savage 5, Combee 4, Kasberger 3, Porfily 2, Langley 2, Bishop, Kessi, Graydon, Humeston. Totals: 12 10-14 36.

Junction City — Colton Ditlefsen 11, McClintock 7, Knabe 9, Penn 7, Prescott 7, Crowley 2, Mitchell 3, Gibson 4, Thielman 4, Gerdes. Totals: 20 11-17 54.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Bales, Savage. Junction City: McClintock, Knabe, Presscott.

North Valley 39, Crook County 37

Friday, December 15

At Marshfield

Crook County 6 8 13 10 — 37

North Valley 4 9 11 15 — 39

Crook County — Thaiden Mullan 17, Bales 8, Savage 3, Kessi 3, Kasberger 2, Graydon 2, Langley 2, Bishop, Porfily, Combee. Totals: 15 0-8 37.

North Valley — Christian Wytcherley 18, Pock 8, C. Lauby 7, T. Lauby 3, McLittle 3, Taylor, Smith. Totals: 14 7-13 39.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Mullan 3, Bales 2, Savage. North Valley: Pock 2, C. Lauby, T. Lauby.

North Bend 42, Crook County 41

Saturday, December 16

At Marshfield

Crook County 11 6 12 12 — 41

North Bend 16 6 10 10 — 42

Crook County — Chase Bales 12, Mullan 7, Langley 5, Combee 5, Kasberger 4, Graydon 4, Bishop 2, Kessi 2, Humeston. Totals: 17 2-8 41.

North Valley — Randy Vader 15, Mateski 6, Frank 5, Simmons 4, B. Messner 2, Harmon 2, Christiansen 2, K Messner 6, Melton, Johnson, Porter. Totals: 17 4-9 42.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Bales 2, Mullan Kasberger. North Bend: Vader 3, Mateski.

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