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Churchill runs out to a big early lead and is never headed as Lancer guard Brian Goracke scores the game's first 11 points

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Caleb Arnold goes up through a pair of Churchill defenders for two of his eight points as the Cowboys lost to the Lancers in the state quarterfinals. Crook County plays West Albany in the first round of consolation Thursday morning at 9 a.m.The Churchill Lancers got off to a quick start Wednesday during the OSAA Class 5A State Basketball Tournament and the Crook County Cowboys were unable to recover. The top-ranked Lancers went on to take a 70-47 victory over the Cowboys.

The tournament is at Gill Coliseum on the campus of Oregon State University. Wednesday's game was historic for the Cowboys as it marked on the second time the school had played in the boys state basketball tournament, and first since 1948.

"It was a good experience playing in Gill Coliseum, but it didn't come out the way we wanted," said Crook County senior post Jordan Graydon. "I think their pressure caused us some problems. We aren't used to that kind of pressure. We tried to practice it, and it's just a different experience once you face them in real life."

Led by 6-6 guard Brian Goracke, the Lancers jumped out to an 11-0 lead before the Cowboys finally called timeout with 4:20 remaining in the first quarter.

Goracke scored the Lancers' first 15 points and scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter.

After the early Lancer run, the Cowboys played well the remainder of the first half.

Crook County trailed 23-13 at the end of the first period and was within 11 points at 36-25 by the half.

"We didn't start well, obviously, on the big floor with the lights on," Crook County head coach Jason Mumm said following the game. "They came out 11-0 on us but we came back and were down 11 at halftime."

However, Churchill went on another run midway through the third quarter, putting the game out of reach.

"They went on one of their runs that we see on film – that we know that they go on, and they sort of just put the game away the end of the third and beginning of the fourth" Mumm said. "It was one of those runs that they do. They stay with it. They pressure, pressure, pressure, attack, attack, attack and then, they are really good. They've got really good players that make shots and execute. They are great defensively. That's why they are here. That's every team that is here."

With Churchill playing aggressive full-court pressure, the Cowboys managed just nine points in the decisive third period, while the Lancers scored 16.

Churchill led 52-34 at the end of three periods and extended the lead to 56-34 before the Cowboys, the Intermountain Conference co-champions, finally scored again.

The Cowboys got within 20 points just once in the final period as Jesse Sanchez hit his third three-pointer of the game to make the score 56-37. However, Crook County would get no closer as the Lancers continued to put pressure on the Cowboys until they finally called their full-court press off with just over a minute remaining in the contest.

Crook County called a timeout late in the game, and Mumm was pleased with the response from his team.

"I feel like we missed some opportunities," he said. "We missed some easy layups. We missed some wide-open threes and we gave them some easy ones. But after their run, when we called timeout, I looked at the players faces and we didn't just quit so I thought that was good."

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jesse Sanchez looks for someone to pass to during the first half of Crook County's 70-47 loss to the Churchill Lancers Wednesday afternoon during the OSAA Class 5A State BAsketball playoffs. Sanchez scored nine points in the game.Goracke was the star of the show, but he was far from the only Lancer who caused problems for the Cowboys as Churchill showed why they were ranked No. 1 in the final OSAA power rankings.

Three other Lancers were also in double figures. Isaiah Wallace finished with 15 points, Evan Pia added 12, and Silas Bennion finished with 10.

Crook County was led by Kevin Sanchez, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. No other Cowboys were in double figures. However, Jesse Sanchez finished with nine points and Caleb Arnold scored eight despite three early fouls that dramatically cut his playing time.

Cayden Lowenbach and Hogan Smith each scored five points for Crook County.

The Lancers shot 50 percent from the floor, while Crook County hit just 41 percent of their shots.

In addition, the Lancers dominated the boards, pulling down 30 rebounds to just 18 for Crook County.

Despite the defensive pressure, Crook County did a good job of taking care of the ball. The Cowboys committed 15 turnovers compared to 13 for the Lancers.

Crook County had opportunities to make the game closer but struggled to score over the aggressive Churchill defense.

"For three and a half quarters, I thought we did a good job of following our game plan," Mumm said. "We never quit. We never gave up. We battled. We had good effort. We left it on the floor, so I thought that was really good. The reason that team beats teams by 50, 60 or 70 points is when they make their runs, people roll over and we didn't do that."

With the loss the Cowboys fall to 17-8 on the year while the No. 1 ranked Lancers improve to 24-3.

Churchill will face No. 4-ranked Wilsonville in the semifinals, while the Cowboys played No. 5-ranked West Albany Thursday morning in the first round of consolation play after Wilsonville defeated West Albany 61-42 in the second game of the afternoon.

"We took a couple of hits in the beginning of the first half and the second half, but I think we played them even after that" Graydon said. "We have to get better tomorrow."

Churchill 70, Crook County 47 Wednesday, March 11 At Gill Coliseum in Corvallis Crook County  10  15  9 13  —  47 Churchill  23  13 16  18  —  70 Crook County (47) – Kevin Sanchez 18, J. Sanchez 9, Arnold 8, Lowenbach 5, Smith 5, Graydon 2, Ramirez, Nunez. Totals: 18  3-4  47. Churchill (70) – Brian Groracke 23, Wallace 15, Pia 12, Bennion 10, Carson 4, Murphy 2, Morgan 2, Weiskind 2, Buendia, Case. Totals: 28  4-8  70. Three-point goals – Crook County: J. Sanchez 3, K. Sanchez 2, Lowenbach, Smith, Arnold. Churchill: Wallace 3, Goracke 3, Bennion 2, Pia 2.

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