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Crook County starts the season 2-0 and has moved up to first in the latest OSAA power rankings

STEELE HAUGEN/MADRAS PIONEER - Tyler Humeston goes up for two of his four points Tuesday night as the Crook County Cowboys rolled to an 85-67 road victory over the Madras White Buffalos. The Cowboys blew open what started as a close game with 29 points in the second quarter, then cruised to the easy victory. Thaiden Mullan led the Cowboys in scoring with 27, while Kaleb Savage added 20. Since the OSAA went to six classifications and started using power rankings to decide seeding for post-season play, no Crook County High School team other than volleyball has ever been ranked first.

That all changed Tuesday night when the Crook County Cowboys whipped the Madras White Buffalos. Not only did Crook County earn an impressive 85-67 road victory, the Cowboys also took over first place in the power rankings with a 2-0 record.

"The biggest part is that we are unselfish," Crook County head basketball coach Darin Kessi said of the Cowboys' hot start to the season. "They enjoy getting better and like to come to practice to get better."

Madras stayed close for much of the first half.

The Cowboys led just 16-12 at the end of one period and still had just a small lead midway through the second period.

However, Kaleb Savage, Thaiden Mullan and Cayden Lowenbach all got hot late in the second quarter as the Cowboys exploded for 29 points in the period to open up a 45-28 halftime lead.

Mullan and Lowenbach each scored seven points in the quarter, while Savage went to the foul line repeatedly, knocking down six free throws in the period to go with a pair of baskets.

Savage went on to finish the game with a career-high 20 points, while Lowenbach, who didn't even play in the first period, finished with nine, and Mullan had a season-high 27.

"I thought that when we executed like we need to, it was effective," Kessi said. "Overall, Madras is a hard team to play because they don't play like anybody else. I was pleased that we were able to build a pretty sizable lead and were able to keep it."

Crook County continued to extend their lead in the third period, outscoring the White Buffalos 26-18 to take a 69-46 lead into the final period. Crook County was up by even more, but Madras scored the final four points of the third.

Mullan and Savage continued to have a hot hand in the period, with Savage scoring eight, while Mullan exploded for 14 in the quarter.

"We were up 27 at one point in the second half," Kessi said, "but it felt like it was only nine. It was a hard game to keep that same defensive intensity because the pace was fast and everything was coming so quickly. It was a good test, because nobody plays like Madras. If you can come in here and get a win, that is a good night."

Crook County went heavily to the bench in the fourth quarter, and Madras was able to crank up their offense as they outscored the Cowboys 21-16 in the period. Still, the Cowboys were in control throughout the game. Seven Cowboys scored in the final period, including players who had not earned any previous playing time this year.

STEELE HAUGEN/MADRAS PIONEER - Crook County's Thaiden Mullan blocks a shot from Dylan Heath of Madras during the Cowboys'; 85-67 victory over the White Buffalos Tuesday night in Madras. Mullan scored 27 points to lead the Crook County offensive attack. The Cowboys are 2-0 to start the year and are currently ranked No. 1 in the OSAA Class 5A power rankings. Eleven of the 12 Cowboys who played scored in the game, with Shane Kessi picking up seven points, Kevin Sanchez five, while Dominic Langley and Tyler Humeston scored four points apiece. Other Cowboys to score included Jesse Sanchez with three as well as Jrei Ramirez, Jordan Graydon and Miles Chaney, all with two.

Byron Patt led the White Buffalos with 27, while Dapri Miller added 10. Donnie Bagley and Kobey Jorgerson each chipped in with eight.

"It was our defense mostly," Lowenbach credited for the team's victory. "We got good stops, we rebounded the ball and did some good stuff against a defense that we don't always see. We handled the pressure well, and we shared the ball and scored lots of points."

The Cowboys remain on the road this weekend, playing games at North Salem (2-1) tonight and South Albany (2-0) on Saturday. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in the current power rankings.

"We are looking forward to this weekend," coach Kessi said. "We have two tough opponents. That is on purpose so we are tested, and the boys are going to respond appropriately."

Crook County will finally play their first home game on Tuesday, Dec. 11, when they host La Pine (2-1) in a 7 p.m. contest.

Crook County 85, Madras 67

Tuesday, December 4

At Madras

Crook County 16 29 24 16 — 85

Madras 12 16 18 21 — 67

Crook County — Thaiden Mullan 27, Savage 20, Lowenbach 9, Kessi 7, K. Sanchez 5, Langley 4, Humeston 4, J. Sanchez 3, Graydon 2, Chaney 2 Ramirez 2, Bishop. Totals: 34 8-10 85.

Madras — Byron Patt 27, Miller 10, Jorgerson 8, Bagley 8, Grote 6, Rhoan 3, Mitchell 3, Heath 2, Herkshan, Morales. Totals: 24 8-19 67.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Mullan 5, Kessi, Lowenbach, K. Sanchez, J. Sanchez. Madras: Patt 6, Bagley 2, Miller 2, Mitchell.

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