Crook County jumps out to quick start, but is unable to hold lead as Bend rolls to win

Riding the hot shooting of A.J. Cooper, the Crook County Cowboys rolled out to an early 10-3 lead over the Bend Lava Bears Tuesday LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Blake Bartels goes to the hoop for two of his 12 points as the Cowboys fell to the Bend Lava Bears.

However, Cooper picked up his second foul midway through the first quarter, and was forced to go to the bench. The Lava Bears capitalized, outscoring the Cowboys 30-1 over the next eight-and-a-half minutes to take control of the game.

“We have a bit of a pattern of letting down,” Crook County Head Coach Darin Kessi said. “We came out with pretty good intensity. The last three games we came out and played well for about six minutes, then we let down.”

The Lava Bears led 20-11 at the end of one period and 42-20 at the half before coasting to a 77-33 win.

Bend took advantage of 19 Crook County turnovers to generate easy scoring opportunities. In addition, the taller Lava Bears outrebounded the Cowboys 46-16, getting easy second-chance baskets.

The Lava Bears were led by J.J. Spitler with 13 points, while Bryan Holiday was also in double figures with 10.

Cooper, who hit four 3-point shots in the contest, and Blake Bartels led Crook County in scoring with 12 points apiece. Seth Kessi also had a solid game for the Cowboys, finishing with seven points. However, the remainder of the Crook County team combined for just two points, while nine Bend players scored at least six points in the LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - A.J. Cooper makes a ball fake before going up with a shot. Cooper hit four 3-pointers in the Cowboys' loss to Bend.

“There were times when we did a good job of being aggressive and attacking their help-side defense,” Kessi said. “Then we were able to kick the ball out for some shots we could actually step into.”

Bartels, who missed the first half of the season with an injury suffered during football season, gave the Cowboys a huge lift. Unfortunately, the team may have lost Cooper for the season, as he went down with an apparent knee injury late in the contest.

With the win, the Lava Bears evened their record at 5-5 while the Cowboys fell to 2-9.

The Cowboys are back in action tonight when they travel to Redmond to take on the 0-9 Panthers in a 7 p.m. contest.

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