Country Christian girls basketball team 2-0 at Cougar Classic
Country Christian coach Russell Halverson was fired up after Saturday's 61-52 win over Days Creek, especially after what had happened the night before.
Opening the Cougar Classic Friday against Mohawk, Country Christian led by 11 points entering the fourth quarter, but had to hold on for dear life to win 53-52.
"That whole game felt like we were going to run away with it," Halverson said. "We kind of lost our legs. Our end of game was awful. We won by one and I went home feeling like we lost. It was concerning. Yesterday, made me feel sick to my stomach. It was so bad."
As "concerning" as Friday's fourth quarter was, the Cougars could not have played much better down the stretch Saturday afternoon.
Down 31-23, Country Christian closed the third quarter on a 15-4 run to take a 38-35 lead.
"We went to a little different offense," Halverson said. "We were short on our outside shooting and kind of lost our legs a little bit, just from fatigue, so we went to a little more of a ground and pound it offense. The kids executed really well. They were more patient."
Six points during the run came on the same inbounds play with junior Allison Burruel finding freshman Annie Bafford under the goal.
"Yesterday, we scored on that five times," Halveron said. "It's one of the most simple plays."
Sophomore Lizzy Grandle gave the Cougars the lead, 36-35, on a 3-point play. A Grandle layup followed by a Bafford bucket extended Country Christian's lead to 40-35.
After Days Creek tied the game at 40-40, Bafford knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:39 remaining to give the Cougars the lead for good.
"I don't know that they could have done much better at the end of the game, for a team that's all freshmen, sophomores, juniors, that's pretty impressive," Halverson said. "I thought the kids responded really well to the press break stuff when they were in that full court man and keeping it in our primary free throw shooters hands."
Bafford finished the game with 22 points and nine rebounds.
"She's a very good ball player," Halverson said of the freshman. "She's got a really high IQ and she can attack like a guard. We're just now teaching her back to the basket moves and it's opened everything up for her."
Grandle, who went 6-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to finish off the Wolves, had 23 points, six assists and six rebounds.
"We're very offensive, and defense and rebounding is where we can improve the most," Grandle said. "I definitely think we have the pieces to come together. Once we get all of that chemistry together, we're going to be really good."
As a team, the Cougars made 14 of 17 free throws.
Grandle and Bafford also led Country Christian against Mohawk. Grandle had 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Bafford added 16 points and seven rebounds.
The Cougars were outrebounded in both games.
"We're still a work in progress in rebounding," Halverson said. "That's going to have to be a point of focus for us and spend a lot of energy on it. A lot of it is going to be fundamentals because we're not nearly as big and strong as we were. We're a lot leaner. We've got to get better on the glass. I think these kids are capable. It's just going to take a more disciplined approach."
Sophomore McKenzie Syphard added 12 points and six rebounds against Days Creek.
"It's really fun having such a young team because they don't know any better," Halverson said.
Along with being young, the Cougars also have girls, like Syphard, that can play multiple positions.
"It gives me a lot of flexibility for matchups and what I want to try on the floor," Halverson said.
Follow us on Twitter
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.