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Buckarros avenge earlier loss with homecourt victory, take over sole possession of first place in IMC

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jrei Ramirez goes up for a shot earlier this year. Ramirez scored 15 points on Tuesday as the Cowboys lost 62-48 to the Pendleton Buckaroos. The loss dropped Crook County to a tie for second place in the Intermountain Conference, while Pendleton is now alone in first place. The Crook County Cowboys were riding high heading into Tuesday's game at Pendleton.

After winning four consecutive league games, the Cowboys were tied with the Buckaroos for first place in the Intermountain Conference. Perhaps, more importantly, Crook County held the tiebreaker over Pendleton.

Not anymore, as the Buckaroos took advantage of home cooking to outscore the Cowboys 62-48 and take sole possession of first place in the IMC.

"I thought the game was closer than the score showed," Crook County head coach Jason Mumm said. "Honestly, we just ran into a really good team that played really well tonight. Sometimes you do that."

Mumm added that the game was a series of runs with both teams ripping off large strings of points.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Pendleton had both the first and last run of the game.

The Buckaroos led 16-10 at the end of the first quarter and 31-26 at the half.

The Cowboys came back and got to within two points midway through the third quarter before the Buckaroos went on a tear late in the period.

By the end of the third quarter, Pendleton had a double-digit lead at 52-42.

With the lead, the Buckaroos slowed the game down and eventually stretched their lead to 14 as they outscored the Cowboys 10-6 in the final frame.

Pendleton's defense held the high-scoring Sanchez brothers to just 11 points between them. Kevin Sanchez could manage just six points and Jesse Sanchez five.

"Our guys that normally score, we want them with the ball, and we want them taking the shots because they score so much, but (Pendleton) took them out of the game," Mumm said. "Other guys stepped up, but I've got to give them a ton of credit. They were really good, and they executed really well."

Starting post Caleb Arnold led the Cowboys in scoring with 16. However, most of his points were from the free-throw line, and he scored just five points in the second half.

Jrei Ramirez came off the bench to score a career high 15 for the Cowboys.

"He played great," Mumm said. "I don't think he came off the floor in the second half. We couldn't take him out because he was the only one that was scoring."

Stockton Hoffman led the Buckaroos in scoring with 22, while Dakota Sams, 16, and Tanner Sweek, 12, were also in double figures.

"We have got to get everybody understanding what our outcomes need to be going forward, and we have to get everybody back on the same page," Mumm said. "But like I said, the game was closer than the score showed, and Pendleton played really well tonight.

With the loss, Crook County fell to 12-6 overall and 4-2 in the Intermountain Conference. In addition, they fell into a tie for second place in league with the Redmond Panthers.

Meanwhile, Pendleton improved to 16-4 overall and 5-1 in conference play.

The Cowboys played a critical home game on Thursday against The Dalles, the lone team to defeat the Cowboys in the first half of the league season.

Crook County then goes on the road on Tuesday to take on the Hood River Valley Eagles.

The Cowboys edged the Eagles by two points in Prineville. Since then, Hood River Valley has won two consecutive league games as the Eagles have improved to 3-3 in league play and 10-8 overall.

Should the Cowboys defeat both The Dalles and Hood River Valley, they will have locked up no worse than third place in the IMC and have guaranteed themselves a playoff spot.

However, a loss to either team could do significant damage to the Cowboys playoff hopes.

Crook County will close out their home season with a 5:30 p.m. game against the Ridgeview Ravens (4-15, 1-5) on Friday, Feb. 21.

The Cowboys will then close out the regular season on the road with a must-win game against the Redmond Panthers (11-9, 4-2).

Pendleton 62, Crook County 48

Tuesday, February 11

At Pendleton

Crook County 10 16 16 6 — 48

Pendleton 16 15 21 10 — 62

Crook County (48) —Caleb Arnold 16, Ramirez 15, K. Sanchez 6, J. Sanchez 5, Graydon 4, Lowenbach 1, Smith 1, Nunez. Totals: 16 11-15 48.

Pendleton (62) — Stockton Hoffman 22, D. Sams 16, Sweek 12, O'Hanlon 8, Maher 2, Broncheau 2, G. Sams, Zander, Begay, Roberts, Murray. Totals: 23 4-7 62.

Three-point goals — Crook County: Ramirez 3, J. Sanchez, K. Sanchez. Pendleton: D. Sams 2, Hoffman 2.

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