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A third quarter doomed the Valley-10 champions against the visiting Days Creek Wolves

PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Country Christian senior Sarah Phillips and freshman Lizzy GrandleHeading into the second round of the 1A playoffs, Country Christian was riding high on the strong league season. The Cougars claimed the Valley-10 League championship, and ousted Damascus Christian in the district playoffs. Against Days Creek, they found an opponent that they had bested earlier in the season by a score of 65-38 on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Country Christian also had the pressure of postseason expectation on its shoulders. For four straight seasons prior, the Cougars had made it to the state championship game. The rematch with Days Creek would determine if the Cougars made it back to Baker High School for the round of eight.

Things got started on the right foot for the defending state champions.

Coming out in the quarter, Country Christian's defense stymied the Days Creek offense on the court. Of the Wolves seven points in the quarter, only a 3-point basket came from the field; the rest came from the charity stripe. The Cougars meanwhile scored 14 points, with six baskets coming from the field.

The second quarter saw things get more competitive between the two teams. Days Creek made 19 points as it got its long range game going. Sophomore Megan Kruzic made the first of her five "3s" in the second stanza.

PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Country Christian senior Katie SandbergCountry Christian senior Katie Sandberg made six points in the quarter, and freshman Lizzy Grandle had five points. Heading into the half the Cougars led 29-26, but the momentum was sliding towards Days Creek.

In the third quarter the wheels came off for Country Christian. The Cougars only managed four points in the quarter, courtesy of seniors Sarah Phillips and Kendall Halverson. Otherwise, it was Days Creek in control of the floor. Three 3-pointers, and a whole host of free throws, put the visiting team in a comfortable 49-33 at the end of the third quarter.

In the final quarter Country Christian came out with a vengeance, playing with the knowledge their season depended on it. The Cougar put up 28 points in the final eight minutes. Grandle put up eight points in that time, and Sandberg chipped in nine points. At one point Country Christian closed the 16-point deficit to just five points, but Days Creek did enough to keep the lead by the buzzers end.

When the dust settled, Country Christian had fallen 68-61.

Grandle led the team in scoring with 17 points, trailed closely by Sandberg with 16 points. Sophomore Allison Burruel and freshman McKenzie Syphard had eight points apiece, followed by sophomore Madison Halverson and senior Kendall Halverson with five points apiece. Senior Sarah Phillips chipped in two points of her own.

The Cougars end the season with a 20-7 overall record, an 11-1 league record, league championship, and ranked the No. 6 team in the state. All of this in what was called at the beginning of the season rebuilding process. The team may not have gotten to Baker High School, but the rebuild is looking strong at the end of the 2018-19 season.

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