Cowboys overcome an early deficit to defeat the Cardinals 58-43 in Tri-Vally Conference action

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Thaiden Mullan goes up for two of his game-high 21 points as the Crook County Cowboys defeated the Corbett Cardinals 58-43 Friday night in Prineville.

After a slow early start, the Crook County Cowboys recovered to take a 58-43 victory over the visiting Corbett Cardinals Friday night in Prineville.

After a 3-point basket by Dylan Oliver, the Cardinals led 7-0 early in the contest.

However, Crook County quickly erased the deficit as Thaiden Mullan grabbed two quick steals and converted them into layups. That was coupled with a basket by Shane Kessi that brought the Cowboys back to within a bucket and forced the Cardinals to call a time out.

"At first, we were just lazy on defense," Mullan said. "Then we realized that the last game we took it to them, so we stepped it up."

The two teams played even the rest of the quarter, with Corbett taking an 11-10 lead on a three by Newton just second before the end of the period.

However, the Cowboys quickly countered, with Mullan scoring again at the buzzer to lift the Cowboys to a 12-11 lead.

Dylan Oliver splits Crook County defenders Kaleb Savage, left, and Jordan Graydon on his way to the basket for two of his 10 points in the Cardinals' loss to the Cowboys.Corbett tied the game one last time at 13-13 on a pair of free throws by Oliver early in the second quarter.

The remainder of the period was all Cowboys as they outscored the Cardinals 19-7 in the period to take control of the game.

Crook County continued to extend their lead in the third quarter, at one time leading by as many as 20 points.

But the Cardinals continued to battle, and by the end of the quarter. they trailed by just 12 at 43-31.

"We had a bunch of turnovers in the first half and early in the third quarter, and we just tried to tune those out in the second half," Newton said. "I think we showed a lot of fight in the second half."

Corbett continued to fight the rest of the game, at one time getting to within six points.

With time running down and the Cowboys slowing the game down, the Cardinals resorted to fouling. Initially, it looked like the plan was working as Crook County missed the front end of two one and ones. However, as the game went on, the Cowboys were solid from the free-throw line, with Kessi hitting a pair before Kaleb Savage hit six consecutive free throws as the Cowboys pulled away at the end.

"Free throws win games, and without free throws, we wouldn't be where we are," Savage said. "I was pleased with how we got the lead, but we were starting to give it away. In the end, we held on strong, and I think it puts us in a good spot in league."

With the win, the Cowboys improved to 5-2 in league, while the Cardinals fell to 0-7. The win keeps Crook County in third place and still in contention for the Tri-Valley Conference championship.

Mullan led all scorers with 21 points, while Savage finished with eight, and both Kessi and Hunter Bishop added seven.

Newton led the Cardinals with 13, while Oliver was in double figures with 10, and Spencer Ziese finished with eight.

Despite the loss, Corbett coach Don Carter was pleased with his team's performance.

"Oh fantastic," he said of his team's performance. "Playing without some key players who were home injured. We asked some younger guys to step up and play, and they stepped up and played fantastic. I'm so proud of the effort the guys put on the floor."

Crook County head coach Darin Kessi was also impressed with how well the Cardinals fought.

"They were missing three or four of their guys, and they did a really good job of battling," he said.

The Cowboys are on the road at Molalla on Tuesday, while the Cardinals are at Estacada.

The game against Molalla is critical for Crook County as a win would guarantee them no worse than third place in the conference and ensure them a play-in game.

"Obviously, it's a big game against Molalla for us," Kessi said. "It keeps us in a position to make it to post season. We are on a stretch where we have won two in a row, so I'm proud of the boys."

Crook County 58, Corbett 43

At Crook County

Corbett 11 7 13 12 - 43

Crook County 12 19 12 15 - 58

Corbett (43) – Josh Newton 13, Oliver 10, Ziese 8, Larsen 4, Parsley 3, Horvath 2, Jake Newton 3, Yuckert. Totals 17 3-8 43.

Crook County (58) – Thaiden Mullan 21, Savage 8, Kessi 7, H. Bishop 7, Bales 6, D. Bishop 2, Kasberger 4, Porfily 2, Langley 1, Graydon. Totals 20 16-21 58.

Three-point goals – Corbett: Josh Newton 3, Oliver, Jake Newton, Parsley. Crook County: Bales, Kessi.

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