After an opening blow-out win over Gervais, the Cougars go toe-to-toe with Central Linn before falling

The Country Christian boys basketball team opened its 2021-22 season on a good note with a 47-26 win over visiting Gervais on Dec. 6.

"The opener for the season had a lot of anticipation for the boys — ready to get on the floor and play and dedicating the game to our teammate Matthew Dewar, who we lost on Nov. 19 in a car accident," coach Dawson Nofziger said. "The boys played tough from start to finish. It took a little time to get the offense rolling, only scoring eight points in the first quarter. Things started flowing in the second quarter on offense as we outscored Gervais 16-6."

COURTESY PHOTO: DAWSON NOFZIGER - The Country Christian boys basketball team paid tribute to teammate Matthew Dewar, who was killed in a car accident on Nov. 19, with t-shirts to honor him before their season opener on Dec. 6.

Fortunately, the Cougar defense was a constant on the night, something Nofziger's team leaned on when the shots weren't falling.

"That will be our team's identity this season, a harassing defense that leads to easy offense," Nofziger said.

In the third quarter, the Cougars slapped their full-court press on Gervais and a wave of takeaways and easy shots followed, allowing Country Christian to outscore the other Cougars by a 20-6 count in the quarter.

Leading the way offensively was junior Matthew Weissenbrunner with 20 points. Chipping in offensively were junior Rhett Johnson with seven points, and seniors Christiain Griffith and Cooper Halverson with six each.

Central Linn 50, Country Christian 43

In its Dec. 9 battle with Central Linn, the Cougars dropped a 50-43 decision in a game that was back-and-forth the whole night.

"As soon as the opening tip happened we knew we were in for a battle all night against the Cobras, and that's exactly how the game went — back and forth the entire night," Nofziger explained.

With both teams trading buckets throughout the first half, neither was able to get much of a lead, which brought the two teams into the halftime lockerroom tied at 22.

"This was a good test to read how the guys are going to do when faced with a well-coached and talented team," Nofziger said. "Our guys stayed in the game all the way through the final buzzer."

Weissenbrunner again led the offense with 20 points on the night and got support from senior Jaxon Bafford, who added 10.

"I was especially pleased with how we kept our heads in the game throughout the whole night and battled to the final buzzer," Nofziger said. "This will be a good game to learn from and I believe it will help us be prepared for hard-fought battles later in the season."

The Cougars continue their season with a league game at Life Christian on Dec. 16, then come back Dec. 17 for a non-leaguer at Willamette Valley Christian. They travel to Perrydale for a Dec. 20 tussle.

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