Crook County High School Cowgirls hope for better luck in the IMC tournament this week

LON AUSTIN - Emma Bales concentrates as she shoots against Madras Friday, June 18. Bales had seven points against the Buffs. The Cowgirls dropped a close one to MHS, 47-46.It was a tough week for the Crook County Cowgirls basketball squad.

The Cowgirls played probably their best games of the year, and still came away with a 1-2 record.

The Cowgirls played the regular season league champion Ridgeview Ravens close for most of their home game on Tuesday before finally falling 44-35. The Cowgirls went on the road on Thursday and rolled to a 56-32 victory over Hood River Valley, before stumbling down the stretch in a 47-46 non-league loss to Madras.

"Isn't it something?" Crook County head coach Bob Boback said after Thursday's game. "I actually thought we had turned the corner and really believed in ourselves and tonight was another game that had nothing to do with the physicality . You know, we just made some mental mistakes. I'm just proud of how we didn't quit and we came back."

On Tuesday, the Cowgirls fell behind 7-0 to the Ravens, but quickly regrouped, going on a 7-0 run of their own to tie the game. The two teams went into the second quarter still tied at 7-7.

Ridgeview clung to a 16-15 lead at the half. The Ravens finally got a little breathing room in the third quarter as they outscored the Cowgirls 13-8 to take a 29-23 lead into the fourth quarter. The two teams traded baskets the entire fourth quarter until Crook County was finally forced to foul with less than two minutes remaining in the contest. Ridgeview made three late free throws as they gradually pulled away for the nine-point win.

Liz Barker came off the bench to lead the Cowgirls in scoring with 10, while Katelynn Weaver finished with nine and Emma Brooks with eight. The Cowgirls stayed close to Ridgeview despite leading scorer Emma Bales not playing due to a family vacation. Faye Davis led Ridgeview in scoring with 15, while Paige Pentzer and Brooklyn Homan each finished with eight.

It took the Cowgirls a while to get going Thursday at Hood River Valley, but once they got their offense rolling, the Cowgirls were hard to stop.

Hood River Valley took a 13-10 lead at the end of one period. From that point on, the Cowgirl defense was stifling as Hood River Valley scored just 19 points in the final three quarters. Crook County outscored the Eagles 12-2 in the second quarter to take a 22-15 halftime lead. Crook County broke the game wide open in the third quarter as they outscored the Eagles 20-7 in the period to extend their lead to 44-22 to start the fourth quarter. With Crook County going deep to their bench, the Cowgirls were still able to extend their lead in the fourth quarter as they coasted to the easy win.

Once again, Liz Barker led the Cowgirls in scoring with 13, while Hutchins was also in double figures with 12. Lauren Papke finished with eight points, while Weaver and Brooks each added seven.

Hood River Valley was led by Ryann Rosselle with 12.

Against Madras

With the league regular season schedule finished, the Cowgirls hosted the Class 4A Madras White Buffalos on Friday.

It was senior night for the Cowgirls, who gave all three seniors a rare start. Crook County jumped out to an early 9-2 lead and looked like they had a chance to break the game wide open. However, Madras regrouped and battled back, scoring the final six points of the first quarter. Crook County clung to a 9-8 lead heading into the second period. However, that lead didn't last.

With Madras upping their defensive pressure the White Buffalos outscored Crook County 17-6 in the second quarter to take a 25-15 halftime lead. The Cowgirls exploded in the third quarter, outscoring the White Buffalos 21-9 in the period to take a 36-34 lead heading into the fourth stanza.

The two teams traded baskets for most of the final period, with McKenzie Jonas grabbing an offensive rebound and hitting a layup with under a minute to go to tie the game at 43-43. A late basket by Sasha Esquiro a rebound and follow shot by Jayden Davis gave Madras a 47-43 lead.

However, the Cowgirls were not done fighting. Weaver hit a clutch three-point shot with under 10 seconds remaining in the game to close Crook County to within one. A quick Crook County foul put Esquiro on the line, but she missed both free throws. However, DaRia White snared the offensive rebound. In desperation the Cowboys fouled White. The foul was called intentional and White was awarded two free throws plus the White Buffalos were given the ball out of bounds. White Missed both free throws, but it didn't matter as Madras was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock.

"I was just focused on trying my hardest and just giving it my all since it was my last time," said Hutchins, one of the three Cowgirl seniors. "It was a little frustrating with our defensive mistakes, but I think we played hard and fought for it. I think we are definitely improving and I am excited to see where that team goes next year."

Weaver led Crook County in scoring with 17, while Hutchins finished with 14, Bales added seven and Brooks finished with six. Madras was led by Esquiro with 16 and White with 13.

Crook County had plenty of chances to win the game. The Cowgirls were just 9-18 from the free throw line, while Madras went 10-13. In addition, Crook County gave up several layups on back door cuts during the game. Still it is the closest that Crook County has come to defeating the White Buffalos in the past several years.

"I believe we can win the league tournament, and I think playing this game makes us even more ready for those other two team," Boback said following Friday's game. "Like I told them in the locker room, this is probably the third game we've lost because of foul shots. I still think you've got to get a belief. In my mind, they still don't believe. All we've got to do is just finish; once we start to finish we will be really tough. This was a perfect game to get ready for the league tournament. I really respect how Madras plays and I really respect how we came back in the second half and really gave them all they wanted."

Madras lost just twice this season and is the Tri-Valley Conference champions.

Crook County finished the regular season with a 6-4 league record and a 6-7 overall record. Crook County finished third in the Intermountain Conference regular season standings. As a result, they were scheduled to host sixth-place Hood River Valley on Monday in the first round of the league playoffs. However, The Dalles has chosen not to participate in the playoffs.

As a result, Hood River Valley was given the fifth seed and Crook County received a first round bye. The Cowgirls will face Pendleton on the road at Pendleton on Thursday. Should the Cowgirls win and Ridgeview win as expected, the Cowgirls would face the Ravens in Redmond on Friday. On the other hand, if the Cowgirls lose, their season is over.

Ridgeview 44, Crook County 35 at Crook County Ridgeview 7 9 13 15 – 44 Crook County 7 8 8 12 – 35 Three-point goals: Ridgeview – none. Crook County – Brooks 2. Ridgeview – Faye Davis 15, P. Pentzer 8, Homan 8, Harding 7, Albrecht 4, L. Pentzer 2, Gates. Totals: 17 10-19 44. Crook County – L. Barker 10, Weaver 9, Brooks 8, Hutchins 4, Papke 2, Woodward 2, Kasberger, Jonas. Totals: 11 11-15 35.

Crook County 56, Hood River Valley 32 at Hood River Valley Crook County 10 12 20 14 – 56 Hood River Valley 13 3 7 10 – 32 Three-point goals: Crook County – Papke 2, Weaver, Freeman, Brooks. Hood River Valley – Rosselle 2, Slatt, Kroll. Crook County – Liz Barker 13, Hutchins 12, Papke 8, Weaver 7, Brooks 7, Kasberger 5, Freeman 3, Jonas 1, A. Barker, Woodward. Totals: 20 11-22 56. Hood River Valley – Ryann Rosselle 12, Slatt 7, Cataaneda 6, Kroll 3, Griggs 2, McNerney 2, M. Griggs 2, Santillan, Schrankel, Leiblein, Elias-Rojas, L. Griggs. Totals: 10 8-15 32.

Madras 47, Crook County 46 at Crook County Madras 8 17 9 13 – 47 Crook County 9 6 21 10 – 46 Three-point goals: Madras – White. Crook County – Weaver 2, Hutchins. Madras – Sasha Esquiro 16, White 13, Ramirez 6, Holliday 5, J. Davis 4, Danzuka 3, R. Davis, Henry. Totals: 18 10-13 47 Crook County – Katelynn Weaver 17, Hutchins 14, Bales 7, Brooks 6, Jonas 2, L. Barker, Freeman, Woodward, Papke. Totals: 17 9-18 46.

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