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Cougars break 29-game losing skid dating to the final game of the 2017-18 season

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais sophomore Michael Toran (center) and junior Brian Limage (left) celebrate from the bench. The Cougars relied heavily on the teams reserves in the 72-63 victory over the Chemawa Braves, the first victory for the Cougs since the 2017-18 season.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais senior Alex Kalugin dropped 25 points and connected on three 3-pointers in the Cougars win over Chemawa.The scoreboard at on Monday, Dec. 16 read a rare sight: Visitors 72, Chemawa 63.

It was not only the first victory for Gervais boys basketball head coach Ben Schultz at Chemawa High School, but it was the first win — period — for the Cougars since the penultimate game of the 2017-18 season.

"It was good to get a win, finally, finally," Schultz said. "This is my first win here being a coach. I don't think we necessarily won, we more escaped, but I'll take it. It's a win. It's something to build off of."

It was a monumental night for the Gervais boys program, which broke a streak of 29 consecutive losses dating back more than a season. The victory made Gervais 1-0 in league play for the first time since 2016, giving the program a big step to build off of after enduring a winless campaign last year.

"We're all tired of losing, and we all came out tonight, and we were fired up," junior Michael Toran said ."We really wanted that win and we played hard to get it."

"It feels great," fellow junior Brian Limage concurred. "We shocked a lot of people today."

Schultz and his team all said the win came as a result of a team effort from top to bottom across the Gervais roster. The stat sheet added credence to their argument — Alex Kalugin led all scorers with 25 points and three 3-pointers. Limage picked up an impressive double-double, scoring 11 points to go with a career-high 15 rebounds. Auggie Guido added 10 points and 11 boards. Toran chipped in eight points and seven steals. Jack Reinwald came off the bench to score eight points, including a pair of 3s. Daniel Hernandez scored seven and ran an offense that put a season-best final score.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais senior Daniel Hernandez scored seven points and helped run an offense that scored 60 points through the first three quarters against the Braves."Overall, it wasn't just one person," Schultz said. "Yeah, Kalugin scored a good amount of points, Jack was hitting shots, we had guys coming off the bench getting minutes and taking charges. It was a good all-around effort from everybody."

The excitement was palpable from the opening tip. Employing a lengthy defensive lineup that featured Hernandez and four 6-foot-2 or taller wings/forwards, the Cougars used a full-court press to frustrate the Chemawa offense and take an 18-12 lead going into the second quarter.

That advantage bloomed to 28-14 before the Braves went on a mini-run of their own to cut the deficit to 38-31 heading into halftime.

"We always run the press, but have always messed up on it," Limage said. "Today, we messed up a lot, but we're able to fix our mistakes."

"We saw film on them, and we knew we wanted to get after it," Schultz said. "It works well when you have Brian at 6-4 with a 7-foot wingspan at the top, and Auggie can go hard too."

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais junior Brian Limage had a double-double against Chemawa, scoring 11 points to go along with a career-high 15 rebounds.The Cougars effectively sealed the game in the third quarter, outscoring Chemawa 22-9 to take a 20-point lead heading into the final eight minutes. Gervais allowed the Braves to pull within single digits in the final quarter, but the lead was too much to overcome.

"They got a little too comfortable and did some sloppy things, but it's things to work on," Schultz said.

It was a bit understandable for a Gervais team featuring players who have had little in-game experience holding onto a fourth-quarter lead.

"That was the same thing with football," Guido said. "We had never taken the lead in the half or the fourth quarter. Now that we did, we've just got to finish now."

Guido was a starter on last year's team that was mostly comprised of sophomores and juniors who had played little varsity experience and earned their stripes going up against more experience competition in the Tri-River Conference. Back for another year, the seasoned Cougars are eager not to let their victory over Chemawa be their lone high point of the season.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais junior Auggie Guido had eight points, 11 rebounds for the Cougars, who employed a lengthy starting lineup consisting of guard Daniel Hernandez and four forwards at 6-foot-2 or taller."That sophomore year taught me a lesson. I couldn't just get everything with my height. I had to play hard, play physical. There's always bigger guys," Guido said. "We haven't won in a year, and this means a lot to me."

Gervais (1-5, 1-1 Tri-River) followed with an 80-43 loss to No. 3 Santiam (6-0, 1-0) on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Kalugin had 15 points, while Guido added 12 in the game.

The Cougars were scheduled to travel to Pendleton for the 2A Preview tournament, playing Weston-McEwen on Friday, Dec. 20 and Heppner on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Gervais returns to the court following New Year's Day at the Crusader Classic New Year's Invitational at Salem Academy High School on Jan. 3-4.

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