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Cowboys basketball still unbeaten; big showdown with second-place Redmond Thursday

LON AUSTIN - Cayden Lowenbach powers to the hole against Bend. The 6-6 post scored 14 points in the victory. He and guard Kevin Sanchez provide an inside-outside attack that has pushed the Cowboys to 9-0 this season.It was a big week for Crook County High School boys basketball.

On the Friday prior to Memorial Day, the Cowboys played at then undefeated Hood River Valley, with Crook County coming away with a 65-60 win in their closest game of the year.

The Cowboys then steamrolled Ridgeview 71-41 on Tuesday, whipped The Dalles 58-44 on Thursday, then knocked off Bend 82-72 on Saturday as the Cowboys improved their record to 9-0 overall.

The Cowboys had their success despite head coach Jason Mumm missing two of the games because of a family matter, and players participating in all of the activities surrounding graduation.

"It's a tough week for the team because they are so busy with graduation practice and then they have their senior trip and then they had their graduation last night," Mumm said on Saturday following the Bend game. "That says a lot about the guys we have going 3-0, graduating on Friday and then a tough one at home on Saturday. It says a lot about their character They could have very easily said we're not going to do this, this is too tough. We're going to focus on one thing and not the other and go through the motions and they didn't do that. So, I'm really proud of our guys."

At Hood River Valley, the Cowboys jumped out to a 21-12 lead at the end of one quarter. But the Eagles clawed their way back into the game, trailing just 32-27 at the half.

Crook County had a big third quarter, extending their lead to 54-40 at the end of three periods, but once again, Hood River Valley battled back, outscoring Crook County 20-11 in the final frame to make the score close at the end. The Cowboy one-two punch of Kevin Sanchez and Cayden Lowenbach teamed up to score 53 of the team's 65 points, with Sanchez scoring 29 and Lowenbach 24.

Tuesday at home against the Ridgeview Ravens, the Cowboys got off to something of a slow start, leading just 16-11 at the end of one period. However, Crook County picked up the tempo in the second quarter, outscoring the Ravens 23-10 in the period as they moved out to a 39-21 lead. Both teams scored 15 points in the third quarter heading into the final stanza with the Cowboys leading 54-36. Once again, the Cowboys outplayed the Ravens in the fourth quarter as they steadily pulled away for the 30-point lead. The score could have been even more lopsided if not for the new 30-point rule that leaves the clock running in the fourth quarter once one team is ahead by 30 or more.

Lowenbach led the Cowboy offensive attack against the Ravens with 22 points. Kevin Sanchez added 18, Jesse Sanchez 17 and Ozzie Reed eight.

Crook County was on the road again on Thursday and once again the Cowboys got off to something of a slow start, leading just 14-9 at the end of one period. The Cowboys led just 29-21 at the half, but outscored the Riverhawks 18-6 in the third quarter to take control of the game. Leading 47-27 to start the fourth quarter, Crook County relaxed in the final period as they were outscored 17-11 in the period.

Kevin Sanchez led the way with 24, while Lowenbach added 20 and Hogan Smith finished with seven.

On Saturday, the Cowboys were home again as they hosted Class 6A Bend.

The Lava Bears played an aggressive man-to-man defense and were not afraid to fire away from long range. As a result, the two teams combined to attempt 56 free throws.

Crook County led wire-to-wire, but could never put the game out of reach.

The Cowboys led 17-14 at the end of one period, 44-31 at the half, and 59-48 at the end of three periods. But just when it looked like Crook County was going to pull away for another easy win, the Lava Bears battled back to close to within five points midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Cowboys made their free throws down the stretch as they held on for the win.

"That Bend team is tough," Mumm said. "They play really hard. It's a good test for us because the teams we have to beat down the stretch ... we are going to have to play through contact. We are going to have to play our game and not rely on anybody else but ourselves. It's a good game to have this time of the season to get us prepared for what's coming up."

Kevin Sanchez had a career-high game, hitting five three-pointers and going 11-15 from the free throw line as he finished with 42 points. Lowenbach was also in double figures with 14 points, while Jesse Sanchez hit four big free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with nine points. Abel Nunez also had a solid game, finishing with eight points, including a big three-pointer right after Bend closed to within five points.

"It just shows our commitment," Kevin Sanchez said of the wins. "A lot of us have been playing basketball together for six or seven years and now we are just leading up to success now. We are executing and it's just nothing but hard work paying off and a lot of stuff behind the scenes that a lot of people don't see."

With the victories, the Cowboys improved to 5-0 in Intermountain Conference play and 9-0 overall. Crook County hosts Pendleton tonight then head to Redmond on Thursday for a game that could decide the league championship. The Panthers are in second place in the Intermountain Conference with a 4-1 league record and a 7-1 overall mark.

"I have been dreaming and thinking about this Redmond game," Kevin Sanchez said. "Just walking in there one more time, that's all I ask for. Just one more time. We know they are going to come after us and we are going to be ready."

The Cowboys then close out the week on Friday when they host The Dalles.

Crook County 65, Hood River Valley 60

at Hood River Valley

Crook County 21 11 22 11 – 65

Hood River Valley 12 15 13 20 – 60

Three-point goals: Crook County – Nunez, J. Sanchez. Hood River Valley – Shoaf 3, Romero, Slekkinen.

Crook County – Kevin Sanchez 29, Lowenbach 24, Reed 4, J. Sanchez 3, Nunez 3, H. Smith 2, Carr, T. Smith. Totals – 26 11-16 65.

Hood River Valley – Emanuel Romero 17, Slekkinen 11, Buckley 10, Shoaf 9, Yates 8, Wells 2, Rowan 2, Cook 1, Achziger, Hughes. Totals – 24 7-15 65.

Crook County 71, Ridgeview 41

at Crook County

Ridgeview 11 10 15 5 – 41

Crook County 16 23 15 17 – 71.

Three-point goals: Ridgeview: Schwartz 3, Z. Asplund 2, Millington, R. Asplund. Crook County – J. Sanchez 3, Reed, K. Sanchez.

Ridgeview – Jeremiah Schwartz 13, Z. Asplund 11, Millington 8, R. Asplund 7, Colella 2, Benz, Felton, Zampko, Clark. Totals: 16 2-3 41.

Crook County – Cayden Lowenbach 22, K. Sanchez 18, J. Sanchez 17, Reed 8, H. Smith 4, Nunez 2, P. Smith, Teskey, Wood, Carr, T. Smith. Totals: 29 8-12 71.

Crook County 58, The Dalles 44

at The Dalles

Crook County 14 15 18 11 – 58

The Dalles 9 12 6 17 – 44

Three-point goals: Crook County – Nunez, J. Sanchez, K. Sanchez. The Dalles – Stewart 2, Floyd.

Crook County – Kevin Sanchez 24, Lowenbach 20, H. Smith 7, Nunez 4, J. Sanchez 3, P. Smith, Teskey, Wood, Carr, Reed. Totals: 21 12-16 58

The Dalles – Styles DeLeon 17, Stewart 9, Floyd 9, Taylor 3, Pullen 2, Niko 2, Brock 2, Bass. Totals: 16 8-9 44.

Crook County 82, Bend 72

at Crook County

Bend 14 17 17 24 – 72

Crook County 17 27 15 23 – 82

Three-point goals: Bend – Clausen 3, Koehler 3, Groshong 3, Keown 2, Baker, Doke. Crook County – K. Sanchez 5, Lowenbach 2, Abel 2, J. Sanchez.

Bend – Nate Koehler 17, Keown 14, Clausen 11, Shields 10, Groshong 9, Doke 5, Baker 4, Dornecker 2. Totals: 24 11-20 72.

Crook County – Kevin Sanchez 42, Lowenbach 14, J. Sanchez 9, Nunez 8, H. Smith 4, Reed 3, Carr 2. Totals: 23 26-36 82.

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