Cowboys fall behind early and never recover in home loss to the Cottage Grove Lions

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jrei Ramirez is fouled on his way to the basket during the Cowboys' loss to Cottage Grove Tuesday evening. Ramirez made both free throws on the play and finished with five points in the game, all in the fourth quarter. The Cottage Grove Lions came out of the gate strong and didn't let up until the fourth quarter as they roared to a 49-40 victory over the Crook County Cowboys Tuesday night in Prineville.

Crook County had just one lead the entire basketball game and that came early in the contest as Shane Kessi hit a three-point shot to give Crook County a 3-2 lead.

"That's about as ugly a loss as we've had since I've been here," Crook County head coach Darin Kessi said. "We just were so flat."

The Lions then went on a roll, scoring 9 of the next 11 points as they rolled to an 11-5 lead.

Crook County had a brief surge late in the first quarter, closing to within two at 13-11, on a Kevin Sanchez three.

However, Cottage Grove scored the final basket of the period to lead 15-11 at the end of one, then held the Cowboys to just one point in the next five minutes of play as they rolled to a 23-12 lead.

Cottage Grove took a 27-16 lead into the locker room at the half.

The Cowboys came out in a full-court press to start the third quarter, and the strategy appeared to work as Crook County was able to force several turnovers.

When Kaleb Savage scored off of a Jordan Graydon steal, the Cowboys were back in the game, trailing 30-23. However, that was as close as they would get.

Cottage Grove regrouped and pounded the ball inside to posts Jasper Nichols-Ferguson and Creed Lufkin as the Lions outscored the Cowboys 13-0 the remainder of the quarter.

The 6-3 Lufkin finished with 16 points, while Nichols-Ferguson, who is 6-6, added 13.

The two players together combined for 11 of the Lion's 16 third quarter points.

Erick Vallejo-Giffen, a 5-7 guard, was also in double figures for the Lions with 12 points.

With Cottage Grove leading 43-23 heading into the fourth quarter, both teams went to their bench, and the Cowboys took advantage, outscoring the Lions 17-6 in the period.

However, it was too little too late as Crook County was never able to get closer than nine the remainder of the game.

Savage led the Cowboys with 12 points, while Kessi had five, and Jrei Ramirez came off the bench to score five in the fourth quarter.

With the loss, the Cowboys dropped to 8-6 on the season, while the Lions improved to 2-12.

The game was just the second home game of the season for the Cowboys, who fell all the way to 12th in the OSAA power rankings with the loss.

Crook County is home again on Friday when they open the league season with a 6:30 p.m. game against The Dalles, 4-7.

"We came out a little bit flat tonight," Savage said. "But in league, we will come out and get them."

Cottage Grove 49, Crook County 40

Tuesday, January 8

Cottage Grove 15 12 16 6 — 49

Crook County 11 5 7 17 — 40

Cottage Grove – Creed Lufkin 16, Nichols Ferguson 13, Vallejo Giffen 12, Graves 6, Doolittle 2, Colburn, Underwood, Gabriel-Trapp, Cameron, Anlauf, Nelson. Totals: 20 7-8 49.

Crook County – Kaleb Savage 12, Kessi 5, Ramirez 5, Mullan 3, Graydon 3, J. Sanchez 3, K. Sanchez 3, Langley 2, Bishop 2, Chaney 1, Lowenbach 1, Smith, Arnold. Totals: 10 15-25 40.

Three-point goals – Cottage Grove: Valleho-Giffen, Graves. Crook County: Savage 2, Kessi, Mullan, K. Sanchez.

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