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After a poor showing against Molalla, the Cougars dominated league foe Eagles

PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Country Christian senior Sarah Phillips had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the first match up against Damascus Christian.
After a dismal showing from Country Christian in the season opener against Molalla, the girls' basketball team had a real gut check in its sophomore outing against the Damascus Christian Eagles. Against one of the better teams in the Valley-10 League, it was a real moment of clarity for the Cougars.

"The way we played this summer, I was confident with where the team was at, but that (Molalla loss) rocked me," head coach Russ Halverson said. "I think when we started to get down, we just completely shut down and I'm not used to that. We were 7-of-49 from 2-point range, and 0-8 from 3-point range. We shoot better than that. We weren't even hitting the rim, we were just chucking it. I wondered if we weren't just a very good shooting team, and I still don't know, but we came out on fire tonight."

Country Christian walked away with its first win of the season, trouncing the Damascus Christian squad 55-34 after 32 minutes of play.

The win was in large part due to an entirely lopsided first quarter that saw Country Christian leap out to a 10-0 lead. It did not get any better for the visiting team the remainder of the quarter, as the Cougars finished the first stanza 22-1.

In the second quarter, Damascus Christian actually outscored Country Christian 11-10, but could not put any meaningful dent into the substantial lead. Baskets from freshman point guard Lizzy Grandle and sophomore Allison Burruel helped keep the lead at 20 points by the end of the half.

PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Country Christian freshman point guard Lizzy Grandle had 15 points in the game, and was able to stop the Damascus Christian center from doing big damage in the game. 
Grandle led the team in scoring with 15 points, and Burruel was 4-for-4 from beyond the arc and had 12 points.

"I trust our young guards, Allison and Lizzy," Halverson said. "I said, 'Kendall, get the ball inbound quick, and go.' It'll make them pull that press, and the next thing you know we've got layups going in, we're hitting jumpers. When he pulled the press because they were tired, we just kept attacking and that's where that compounded."

Damascus Christian sophomore McKenna Patrick was part of the teams scoring in the second quarter, picking up four baskets for five points in the quarter.

In the third quarter, Damascus Christian was able to keep itself in the game thanks to senior Tory Webb, who scored 7 of the teams 12 points in the quarter. But once again, Country was able to go blow for blow with the Eagles. Senior Sarah Phillips sank three baskets in the quarter, and managed to get 14 points and 13 rebounds throughout the entirety of the game.

In the final quarter, Damascus Christian scored four baskets in a row thanks to Webb and sophomore Savannah Hale, but the Cougars were able match point-for-point.

A lot of the damage Country Christian did was volume inside the paint, where the team went 7-for-20. While the percentage was not great, what allowed the team to be successful was the 22 offensive rebounds.

"I think it's a really good omen going forward," Grandle said. "They're really good, we don't want to underestimate them. If we work hard, I think we can beat a lot of teams. I don't know what our season is going to look like, but I'm looking forward to it."

With the win, Country Christian advanced to 1-1 on the season, and faced off with Elkton on Friday, Dec. 7 and picked up another win 53-37.

Phillips led the team in all-around stats, with 15 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 assists. Grandle was next for the Cougars, scoring 10 points with 6 rebounds. It was a dominant win that saw the Cougars outscore Elkton in each quarter except in the second, where both teams scored 14 points apiece. With the loss, Elkton fell to 1-4 on the season, while Country Christian improved to 2-1.

In the third game of the season, and the second game of the Cougar Classic, Country Christian matched up against Days Creek (3-1) on Saturday, Dec. 8.PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Country Christian freshman McKenzie Syphard led the Cougars in scoring against Days Creek with 17 points. Country Christian won 65-38 after 32 minutes.

The Cougars jumped out to an early 20-7 lead in the first quarter. The biggest streak in the first eight minutes was a 14-2 run the Cougars went on that saw the team dominating inside the key. That was actually the key to victory against the Wolves. Country Christian scored 54 points from 2-point range and 11 from the free throw line, but went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.

The team's success inside was also due to the fact that they were able to rebound well, picking up 50 boards over the course of the game.

In the first half, senior Katie Sandberg had 10 points, and had 14 points over the entirety of the game. Phillips had 14 points in the same time, and totaled 9 rebounds in the game. Heading into halftime, Country Christian led 37-22.

In the second half, freshman McKenzie Syphard went off, scoring 12 points for Country Christian and picking up a handful of steals. At the end of the game, Syphard had 17 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists. She also shot 57 percent from the field, the highest percentage of the team.

Country Christian also outscored the Days Creek Wolves 28-16, and wound up with the win 65-38 at the end of the day. The Cougars improved to 3-1, while Days Creek fell to 3-2 overall.

Country Christian moves on to face North Clackamas Christian (3-2) on the road on Tuesday, Dec. 11 in a Valley-10 League matchup.

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