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Redhawks break open a close game with big third quarter, cruise to easy victory over Cowgirls

The South Albany Redhawks used a big third quarter to break open a close game as they rolled to a 59-39 victory over the Crook County Cowgirls Thursday night in non-league basketball action.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - McKinzee Mode gives a ball fake during a game against Madras earlier this year. Mode finished with nine points and six rebounds on Thursday in the Cowgirls' loss to the South Albany Riverhawks. "If we could have taken away the third quarter, it would have been a great game," said Crook County head coach Heidi Lea. "We were right in there and then the third quarter we just had some lapses on defense, and we had some unforced errors and some fouls, and we just let it slip away."

The host Redhawks led from the beginning. However, the Cowgirls hung close for the first half. The Cowgirls struggled offensively early in the game as the Redhawks took a 10-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

However, Crook County got their offense into high gear in the second quarter, and when McKinzee Mode hit a three-pointer late in the half, the Cowgirls were within three at 17-14.

South Albany quickly regrouped, outscoring the Cowgirls 6-2 the remainder of the half. Still, the Cowgirls were within range, trailing just 23-16 at the half.

The Redhawks increased the intensity of their press in the third quarter, and the Cowgirls had difficulty matching that intensity as South Albany outscored Crook County 23-10 in the period.

"We would break the press, and then instead of settling down and running it, we tried to make an extra pass and it went out of bounds, or they got in the passing lane and stole it," Lea said. "So, we broke the press, but it wasn't like they stole the ball as much as we just threw it away or we traveled or those types of errors."

Adding to the problems for Crook County were fouls. Starter Dallas Hutchins, one of the team's leading scorers, was in foul trouble the entire game and played just a handful of minutes.

"Dallas hardly ever comes off the floor," Lea said. "She had two fouls in the first quarter, so I pulled her. I put her back in to start the second quarter, and she picked up her third foul in less than a minute."

Lea added that after playing less than two minutes in the second half Hutchins picked up her fourth foul and had to go to the bench for the remainder of the quarter.

As a result, Hutchins was never in the flow of the game and finished with just four points.

Starting post player Liz Barker was also in foul trouble, spending time on the bench as well.

Possibly even more importantly than players losing playing time was that South Albany went to the foul line 32 times in the contest, converting on 17 of their free-throw attempts.

The two teams played even in the fourth quarter, but the damage had already been done as the Redhawks cruised to the easy victory.

The Cowgirls finished with 44 turnovers in the game, compared to just 21 for the Redhawks.

However, for the second consecutive contest, Crook County was strong on the boards, pulling down 58 rebounds to just 33 for South Albany.

Possibly the biggest bright spot for the Cowgirls was the play of freshman Emma Bales.

Bales missed the first two games of the season with a minor knee injury.

Although she didn't start against South Albany, Bales still had a monster game, scoring a team-high 12 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

"She gives us some extra height," Lea said.

Mode, one of just three seniors on the Cowgirl roster, finished with eight points while Barker, a sophomore, added six points and 11 rebounds, despite her time on the bench.

Both Mode and freshman Josie Kasberger pulled down six rebounds in the game.

With the loss, the Cowgirls dropped to 0-3 on the year, while South Albany improved to 2-1.

Crook County was scheduled to host Silverton on Saturday, but the Foxes canceled at the last minute, not notifying Crook County until late Saturday morning.

Lea noted that Silverton had scouts at the Crook County and South Albany game on Thursday and gave no indication that they didn't intend to play on Saturday.

"We looked at the pass and it didn't look bad, and we had just a skiff of snow in the morning," Lea said. "So we don't know why they canceled. If they weren't going to come, they should have at least called on Friday."

The Cowgirls are at home tonight when they take on the La Pine Hawks (2-3) in a 5:30 p.m. game.

Following that game, Crook County does not play again until Thursday, Dec. 20 when they travel to Seaside for the three-day Seaside Invitational.

The Cowgirls are tentatively scheduled to play the host Seaside Seagulls (2-2) in the opening round. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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