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Crook County Cowboys left to wonder what might have been at a 5A state tournament

LON AUSTIN - Jesse Sanchez celebrates the Cowboys' victory over Ridgeview in the Intermountain Conference Championship game Friday. The pandemic kept the OSAA from sanctioning state tournaments this year, a move that kept Crook County, largely unchallenged in league, from testing themselves against the state's other outstanding 5A teams.The Crook County Cowboys have finished up the 2021 basketball season with a perfect 16-0 record.

The Cowboys rolled past Ridgeview 59-47 Wednesday in the Intermountain Conference tournament, then edged Redmond 61-55 on Friday in the tournament championship.

"That was fun," said Crook County head coach Jason Mumm following Friday's game. "It was fun for our guys. We knew they were going to come after us. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. I'm proud of my seniors. I'm proud of all my team — the younger guys too. We were in it all year long. And we got it done."

The Cowboys are the only undefeated team in Class 5A as the remaining three teams who entered the final week of the season undefeated all suffered losses during the week.

Crook County was tentatively scheduled to play at Wilsonville on Saturday, but the Wildcats canceled the game early in the week.

Wednesday the Cowboys jumped out to a 17-11 lead after one quarter and led 31-22 at the half.

The two teams traded baskets in the third period as Crook County took a 46-37 lead into the final frame.

Ridgeview started to foul late in the fourth quarter in an effort to stop the clock. The Cowboys hit 6 of 10 free throws in the period as they slowly edged away for the win.

Kevin Sanchez led Crook County in scoring with 22 while Cayden Lowenbach finished with 18 and Hogan Smith was also in double figures with 10.

Ryan Asplund was the lone Raven in double figures with 16 points in the contest. Jeremiah Schwartz, 9, Declan Clark, 8, and Peyton Zampko, 7, also had solid offensive games for the Ravens.

The win propelled the host Cowboys into a championship match with Redmond, who defeated Hood River Valley 58-49 in the other semifinal.

Friday's game was hard-fought, with neither team able to open a big lead. Both teams were in foul trouble early as the two teams were whistled for 36 fouls before the final buzzer. Despite all the fouls, neither team was able to take advantage with Crook County going 9-14 from the free throw line while the Panthers were 6-9 at the stripe.

However, that slight free throw advantage turned out to be the difference in the game as the Cowboys won by just six points.

The two teams were tied 11-11 after one period. The Cowboys exploded for 23 points in the second quarter, taking a 34-26 lead at the half.

However, the Panthers outscored Crook County 15-11 in the third quarter to close to within a point at 45-44 heading into the final period.

"It was like no words," Kevin Sanchez said of Friday's game. "It was just emotions and we just had to just know that anything could happen. The ball was going to go either way and tonight we found a way to win. I just think it's special. It's just a reflection of all the hard work that we all put in. It's nice to start the game with the seniors and then end the game that way. There's just no better way to end the season than that memory."

Kevin Sanchez led all scorers with 31, while Lowenbach finished with 16 and Jesse Sanchez 11. Garrett Osborne, 24, and Charlie Rawlins, 17, were the only Panthers in double figures, while Skyler Jones finished with nine.

The Cowboys closed out the season with a 10-0 league record and a 16-0 overall mark, while Ridgeview was 5-10 overall and 3-7 in league and Redmond finished with a 12-3 overall record and an 8-2 league mark.

"It's awesome," Mumm said of finishing the season undefeated. "I know that's one of the things that these guys wanted to do after we got shut down last year is they said we are not losing again. I will tell you what, they battled for practice time and played through injuries and played through all that stuff. Man, its fun."

Mumm added that he is pleased with what his team accomplished, and proud of the team's five seniors.

"I keep telling myself that it doesn't just suck for us, it sucks for everyone else that would have been there at the end," Mumm said of the lack of a playoff."Redmond would have been there at the end. I know there are teams from all over the state that would have been there at the end. And it sucks that we couldn't have something. We have a special group here and they did special things this year. I always tell the seniors, exit the program better, leave the program better than you entered it and you can't argue that this group of seniors left the program better than when they entered it. I'm really proud of our (seniors), they are going to do special things in life, just five great human beings and people and I love them to death."

Crook County 59, Ridgeview 47

at Crook County

Ridgeview 11 11 15 10 – 47

Crook County 17 14 15 13 – 59

Three-point goals: Ridgeview – Z. Asplund, Schwartz, Benz. Crook County – K. Sanchez 4, Lowenbach 2, Smith, Nunez.

Ridgeview – Ryan Asplund 16, Schwartz 9, Clark 8, Zampko 7, Benz 4, Z. Asplund 3, Chastain. Totals – 19 6-13 47.

Crook County – Kevin Sanchez 22, Lowenbach 18, Smith 10, J. Sanchez 6, Nunez 3, Reed. Totals – 18 13-17 59.

Crook County 61, Redmond 55

at Crook County

Redmond 11 15 18 11 – 55

Crook County 11 23 11 16 – 61

Three-point goals: Redmond – Rawlins 3, Osborne 2, Jones, Haigh. Crook County – K. Sanchez 5, J. Sanchez 3.

Redmond – Garrett Osborne 24, Rawlins 17, S. Jones 9, Haigh 3, Wachs 1, Young 1, T. Jones, Saito. Totals – 21 6-9 55.

Crook County – Kevin Sanchez 31, Lowenbach 16, J. Sanchez 11, Smith 2, Nunez, Reed, Carr. Totals – 22 9-14 61.

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