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Crook County continues to show improvement, but struggled with inconsistency during Sisters tournament

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Josie Kasberger goes up for two of her nine points against Henley. The Cowgirls lost to Henley 58-39 and also lost to Banks 68-40 during the Sisters Holiday Shootout. However, the team was able to win their second game of the year during the tournament as they crushed the host Sisters Outlaws 50-19 on Saturday. The Crook County Cowgirls were competitive for most of the Sisters Holiday Shootout Basketball Tournament.

However, a pair of slow quarters proved costly as the Cowgirls went 1-2 at the tournament, which was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Sisters.

"It seems like we just have that little lull," Crook County head coach Heidi Lea said of the tournament. "We take a break, and when we take a break it seems like they jump on us."

The Cowgirls fell to Banks 67-40 in Friday's opening round, rebounded to whip Sisters 50-19 on Saturday, then fell to Henley 58-39 on Sunday.

Friday's game against Banks was much closer than the final score would indicate.

After falling behind 13-6 at the end of the first quarter and 30-20 at the half, Crook County mounted a comeback in the third quarter.

The Cowgirls outscored the Braves 15-11 in the period, cutting the deficit to just six points at 41-35.

When Dallas Hutchins hit a three early in the fourth quarter, the Cowgirls were within five at 43-38 with just six minutes remaining in the contest.

However, that was as close as they would get as Banks outscored Crook County 22-2 the remainder of the game and pulled away for a 27-point victory.

Hutchins led the Cowgirls in scoring with 13 points, while Josie Kasberger and Teagan Freeman each scored eight, and Martina Zandio pitched in with five.

Banks was led by Camila Navarez with 13 and Maddy Shook with 12.

Banks went on to finish second to La Grande in the tournament.

Saturday against Sisters was a different story.

The Outlaws had defeated Crook County 42-39 a week earlier, when two of Crook County's starters were unable to play due to illness.

Saturday Crook County left no doubt who was the better team as they streaked out to a big early lead and were never headed in the 31-point victory.

Crook County led 18-1 at the end of one period and 24-8 at the half.

The Cowgirls went heavily to their bench in the second half and continued to pull away. Crook County led 36-13 at the end of three periods and outscored the Outlaws 14-6 in the final frame as they cruised to the easy win.

"We did have a hesitation in the second quarter, but we came back and played the third and fourth real well," Lea said. "Our young kids are stepping up and getting some playing time under their belt and doing things well."

After scoring just two points in Friday's loss, Liz Barker bounced back to lead the Cowgirls in scoring on Saturday with 12 points. Kasberger was also in double figures with 10, while Taylor Joyce and Hutchins each scored five.

All told, 10 Cowgirls scored in the contest as Crook County gained 50 or more points for the second time this season.

Hallie Schwartz of Sisters led all scorers with 14. However, just three Outlaws scored in the game, with Emma Lutz scoring three and Josie Patton two.

"It was really important that we beat Sisters," Kasberger said. "It was fun."

Henley opened the game in a full-court press, something the Cowgirls have struggled with so far this year.

After forcing a pair of early turnovers, the Hornets took a 4-0 lead in the opening minute of the game.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Martina Zandio goes up for two points during the Cowgirls' loss to Banks on Friday. Crook County rebounded to beat Sisters on Saturday before falling to Henley on Sunday. The Cowgirls do not play again until Saturday, Jan. 7 when they take on Cottage Grove in a road game. However, the Cowgirls regrouped, repeatedly breaking the press, which led to easy shots for Crook County.

The Cowgirls outscored the Hornets 14-10 the remainder of the quarter as the period ended with the two teams tied at 14.

"Our press break really improved," Kasberger said. "We've been struggling with that all year."

Henley increased the intensity of their full-court press in the second quarter, forcing the Cowgirls into a series of turnovers.

Crook County then compounded the problem by fouling the Hornets, often while they were shooting.

Henley went to the line for 15 free throws in the period, and the Hornets outscored the Cowgirls 26-8 to open up a 40-22 halftime lead.

The Cowgirls regained their composure in the third quarter, holding the Hornets to just four points in the period.

However, Crook County was unable to take advantage, scoring just five points in the period. Henley took a 44-25 lead into the final quarter.

The Cowgirls held the Hornets to just two baskets in the fourth quarter. However, Henley paraded to the free throw line, hitting seven of 15 free throws in the quarter.

Still, the Cowgirls stayed even with the Hornets in the period, scoring 12 points of their own.

The Cowgirls committed 23 fouls in the game to 17 for the Hornets. However, Henley went to the line 36 times, converting 19, while the Cowgirls hit just six of 15 from the free throw line.

Barker led Crook County in scoring with 12, while Kasberger added nine and Freeman five.

Henley was led by Raigan Loney with 18, while Kinzie Nelson and Alexandria Sharp were also in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

"Like I told the girls, we were right there," Lea said. "We were even, and then we had that lull. But overall, I think the tournament was good. We got kids in and I think our younger kids are stepping up and feeling confident. No more deer in the headlights look."

The Cowgirls, 2-8, do not play again until Tuesday, Jan. 7, when they go on the road to take on Cottage Grove, 5-3.

The team is on the road again on Friday, Jan. 10, when they travel to Portland to take on Milwaukie, 3-3. Both games are scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m.

The two games are Crook County's final contests before opening league on Friday, Jan. 17, when they host The Dalles, 5-3, in a 6:30 p.m. matchup.

The Cowgirls are already thinking ahead to the start of the Intermountain Conference season.

"We open up with The Dalles at home," Lea said. "We saw them this summer, and they have a good post and a good guard. If we can stand up with them, I think we might surprise them."

Kasberger agreed.

"I think this year is going to be really good because we have been working hard," she said. "It was really fun to see how much progress we've made since the beginning of the season, and we know we can play with The Dalles."

Banks 67, Crook County 40

Friday, December 27

At Sisters Holiday Shootout Tournament

Crook County 6 14 15 5 — 40

Banks 13 17 11 24 — 67

Crook County (40) — Dallas Hutchins 13, Kasberger 8, Freeman 8, Zandio 5, Joyce 3, L. Barker 2, A. Barker 1, Jonas, Gish, Woodward, Nguyen. Totals: 15 3-11 40.

Banks (67) — Camila Navarez 13, Shook 12, Streblow 8, Evans 7, Merritt 5, Johnson 5, Minervini 4, Rizzo 3, Saunders 2, Belden 2, Maller 2, Walker 2, Van Loo, Van Domelen. Totals: 24 11-23 67.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Freeman 2, Hutchins 2. Banks: Shook 4, Navarez 2, Merritt, Evans.

Crook County 50, Sisters 19

Saturday, December 28

At Sisters Holiday Shootout Tournament

Crook County 18 6 12 14 — 50

Sisters 1 7 5 6 — 19

Crook County (50) — Liz Barker 12, Kasberger 10, Joyce 5, Hutchins 5, Zandio 4, Freeman 4, Woodward 3, Papke 3, Gish 2, A. Barker 2Nguyen, Bales. Totals: 21 4-11 50.

Sisters (19) — Hallie Schwartz 14, Lutz 3, Patton 2, Morgan, Aylor, Mayes, Schar, Rush. Totals: 7 1-8 19.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Woodward, Joyce. Sisters: Schwartz.

Henley 58, Crook County 39

Sunday, December 29

At Sisters Holiday Shootout Tournament

Crook County 14 8 5 12 — 39

Henley 14 26 4 12 — 58

Crook County (39) — Liz Barker 12, Kasberger 9, Freeman 5, A. Barker 4, Zandio 3, Bales 2, Woodward 2, Hutchins 2. Totals: 16 6-15 39.

Henley (58) — Raigan Loney 18, Nelson 13, Sharp 11, Moore 8, Badker 4, Cheyne 3, Peterson 1, Hamilton, Meisness. Totals: 18 19-36 58.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Freeman. Henley: Nelson 2, Loney.

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