The Crook County boys basketball team is still undefeated, but that doesn't mean that things have been easy.
Crook County struggled at Ridgeview on Monday, as they eked out a 62-57 victory over the fourth-place Ravens.
After struggling against Ridgeview, the Cowboys took advantage of a couple of practice prior to hosting Hood River Valley on Thursday. It was senior night for the Cowboys, who started slowly, but they went on a 21-2 run to take control of the game as they raced away for an 82-50 victory over the third-place Eagles.
"It's a dream come true," Jesse Sanchez said of going undefeated in the regular season. "We are a family and that translated to our games because we know how to pump each other up."
Monday at Ridgeview, the Cowboys took a 14-9 lead after one period. Crook County led 28-19 at the half, and it looked like the Cowboys were about to take control of the game.
However, the Ravens would not go away. Ridgeview still trailed by nine, 45-36, heading into the fourth quarter. Ridgeview got to within a point late in the fourth quarter, but Crook County was able to make enough free throws down the stretch to hold on as they pushed their season record to 13-0.
Crook County was led by Sanchez with 23 points. Sanchez hit five three-pointers in the game, as well as going 2-2 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Sanchez scored 13 of the Cowboys' 17 points in the third quarter to help Crook County hold on to their lead.
Kevin Sanchez and Cayden Lowenbach were also in double figures for the Cowboys with 18 and 12 points, respectively. No other Cowboys scored more than three points in the contest. Peyton Zampko led the Ravens with 16 points while Rylan Asplund finished with 14. Jeremiah Schwartz was also in double figures with 12.
Bashing the Eagles
Crook County fell behind 7-2 early in their game with Hood River Valley. However, with 4:37 remaining in the first quarter, Eagle guard Emanuel Romero picked up his second foul of the game and went to the bench. From that point on, it was all Crook County. Hood River Valley scored just two more points in the first quarter as the Cowboys raced to a 17-9 lead.
The Cowboys continued to pour it on in the second quarter as they outscored Hood River Valley 23-9 in the period as they increased their lead to 40-18 at the half. The Cowboys continued to score in the third period, but with Romero back on the court, Hood River Valley kept pace. But Crook County took a 66-39 lead into the final frame.
"We were focused," Jesse Sanchez said of the difference between Thursday's game and Monday's. "We weren't jacking up shots. We were hustling and we were talking. Last time we weren't on the same page and we had more selfishness the last game."
With a running clock for much of the fourth quarter, and Crook County going to their bench, the Cowboys scored just 16 points in the final period. Crook County led by as many as 38 in the period as they costed to the easy win. Hood River Valley never seriously challenged as the Cowboys took one of their easiest wins of the year.
What made the victory especially impressive is that the Cowboys had only defeated Hood River Valley by five points earlier in the year.
Lowenbach had a monster game for the Cowboys with 25 points, 17 rebounds, four blocked shots and three dunks. Jesse Sanchez had another solid game, hitting four three-point shots and scoring 20 points in the game. Kevin Sanchez was also in double figures with 15 points. Hogan Smith pitched in with eight points, while Abel Nunez finished with six.
Meanwhile, Romero led the Eagles with 15 points, while Ryles Buckley was also in double figures with 10 points.
With the victory, the Cowboys finished the regular season with a 10-0 league record and a 14-0 overall mark.
Meanwhile, Hood River Valley finished the year with an 8-4 overall record and a 6-4 league mark. Ridgeview ended the regular season with a 4-9 overall mark and a 3-7 league record.
The Cowboys will host Pendleton on Wednesday in the first round of the league playoffs. Should the Cowboys win, they will host the league championship game on Friday. Both games are tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m.
"Our goal from last year was to make it to the playoffs," Jesse Sanchez said. "It was our 2021 vision and it is sad that there are no playoffs, but at least we get to play basketball. There could have been no basketball. All five of our seniors stuck on the court together and at least we got to play."
The Cowboys also have a game tentatively scheduled for Saturday at undefeated Wilsonville, 14-0, 9-0.
Crook County 62, Ridgeview 57at RidgeviewCrook County 14 14 17 17 – 62Ridgeview 9 10 17 21 – 57Three-point goals: Crook County – J. Sanchez 5, Nunez, Smith, K. Sanchez. Ridgeview – Benz 2, Schwartz 2, Millington. Crook County – Jesse Sanchez 23, K. Sanchez 18, Lowenbach 12, Abel 3, Smith 3, Carr 2, Reed 1. Totals: 21 12-16 62.Ridgeview – Peyton Zampko 16, R. Asplund 14, Schwartz 12, Millington 7, Benz 6, Z. Asplund 2, Clark. Totals: 23 6-9 57.
Crook County 82, Hood River Valley 50at Crook CountyHood River Valley 9 9 21 11 – 50Crook County 17 23 26 16 – 82Three-point goals: Hood River Valley – Romero 4, Buckley 2, Cook, Shoaf. Crook County – K. Sanchez 4, J. Sanchez 4, Reed 2, Abel 2, H. Smith 2, Lowenbach.Hood River Valley – Emanuel Romero 15, Buckley 10, Shoaf, 9, Yates 8, Cook 3, Siekkinen 3, Goodman 1, Casteneda 1, Zeman, Wells. Totals: 16 13-17 50.Crook County – Cayden Lowenbach 25, J. Sanchez 20, K. Sanchez 15, H. Smith 8, Abel 6, Reed 6, Carr 2, S. Smith, Teskey, Wood, Freauff. Totals: 29 9-14 82.
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