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The Cougars finished their nonconference slate with wins over Colton and Mannahouse, now look to league play

A pair of nonconference wins pushed the Country Christian boys basketball team to 7-3 on the season and prepped them nicely for the full-on start of league play.

The Cougars already have two league wins in the bag, but things are about to get really busy.

Country Christian got a last-second three-pointer from Matthew Weissenbrunner to snag a 43-42 win over Mannahouse Christian Academy on Jan. 4. coach Dawson Nofziger noted that the intense holiday schedule took a toll.

COURTESY PHOTO: MINDAY GRECO - The Country Christian boys basketball team got a last second three-pointer to push its record to 7-3 overall. With a 2-0 league mark already, the Cougars prepare for the start of their league season.

"The fatigue of playing our fifth game in six days became evident Tuesday night as we faced off against a one-loss Mannahouse team," Nofziger said. "The offense was slow to get going but the defensive pressure was our saving grace, helping us to score easy buckets. That came by way of Malachi O'Connor, who scored all nine of our points in the first quarter, many from steals that led to lay-ins."

From there, the game consisted of trading buckets and back and forth runs by both teams. Neither team could get or keep a lead of more than five points through four quarters.

Weissenbrunner got things rolling offensively in the fourth quarter, which helped keep the Cougars in the game.

"Once again O'Connor came up with some great hustle plays that turned into buckets on our end," Nofziger said. "He finished with 13 points. We were down two with 11 seconds left when O'Connor stole the ball and attacked the rim where he was fouled. Unfortunately, he came up injured from that play and had to exit the game. After a missed free-throw and a turnover by the Lions we were still down two with 4.2 seconds remaining. We drew up a play to either tie or win the game depending on how the defense set up. As we inbounded the ball, Weissenbrunner (17 points on the night) found himself wide open in the corner and 'bang,' he hit the three to put us up by one with only two seconds left. After an ugly game of grinding it out on both ends of the floor it was fun to come out on top with a big shot from Matthew."

Country Christian 54, Colton 26

Coming of an intense weekend tournament, the Cougars demonstrated some depth in a 54-26 win over Colton on Jan. 3.

"A slow start to the game offensively was quickly sparked by a steal from Cooper Halverson and an outlet pass to a cutting Rhett Johnson down the middle of the key," Nofziger said. "He rose up and slammed it for two. The bench and crowd went crazy for Johnson's first dunk of his career. We rode that momentum into the second quarter as we took a 31-13 lead into halftime."

Country Christian's defensive pressure translated into easy buckets and helped stretch the lead throughout the remainder of the game.

Weissenbrunner led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Johnson with eight points and Luke Stopper, Jaxon Bafford and Cooper Halverson all with seven points rounded out the scoring.

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