Crook County comes up short in close game at first round of Sisters Invitational

For the second consecutive game, the Crook County Cowgirls came up just short.

Playing the Sisters Outlaws for the third time this season, the Cowgirls took an early lead but were unable to hang on as they fell 44-36 to the host Outlaws in Wednesday's first round of the Sisters Invitational basketball tournament.LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Tiffany Smith goes up for two of her seven points in the Cowgirls' 44-36 loss to Sisters Wednesday evening. Smith also pulled down nine rebounds in the contest.

"At times we played well," Crook County head coach Heidi Lea said. "But sometimes, we look helter skelter, and then it's like guys, we run the offense how many times in practice? They just panic if the first option doesn't work."

The Cowgirls came out strong in to start the game, taking a 12-7 lead at the end of the first period.

However, the Cowgirls went cold in the second quarter as they were outscored 13-6, with the Outlaws taking a 20-18 halftime lead.

Sisters opened a 26-18 lead, starting the third quarter on a pair of long range bombs by Alexa Stewart.

The Cowgirls attempted to battle back, getting to within four points on a Baylee Thompson put back.

"We still need to execute better and run through our offense and defense," Thompson said following the game. "But we've progressed a lot from where we've started."

That was as close as Crook County would get as Stewart hit her third basket of the period to give the Outlaws a 28-22 lead.

The Cowgirls could manage just six points in the quarter as the Outlaws moved out to a 34-24 lead.

However, the Cowgirls battled back, cutting the lead to 41-36 on a Tiffany Smith three-point play with just under a minute to play.

Smith had her second consecutive strong game as she pulled down nine rebounds and scored seven points in the contest.

"I thought I did a pretty good rebounding job," she said. "I wish I could have scored more points, but the team is making progress. If we can execute a little bit better, I think that we can be right in any of the games in our league."

Lea agreed.

"Tiffany is coming along," she said. "She has had a couple good games in a row, and you see her getting on the boards. The competitiveness is coming."

The Cowgirls put on a frantic full court press late in the game and did force several Outlaw turnovers. Unfortunately, Crook County turned the ball over more as they made three turnovers in the final minute of play.

Crook County forced Sisters into 19 turnovers in the contest. However, the Cowgirls committed 23 turnovers of their own.

"I told the girls, you are going to have some turnovers because you are trying to push the ball up the court and those are going to be OK," Lea said. "But to just pass to no one or to say OK I'm going to make a pass and you have already preconceived that's where it's going, those are the turnovers that we can't have."

As has happened all season, freshman Rylee Troutman led the way for Crook County. Troutman finished with a game-high 15 points along with 14 rebounds. LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Rylee Troutman goes hard to the basket against Amanda Smith, of Sisters. Troutman led all scorers in the game with 16 points.

Thompson came off the bench to score six points, while Paige Kump added four points while grabbing six rebounds.

Crook County was strong on the boards against the taller Outlaws, grabbing 40 rebounds to just 34 for Sisters. But that wasn't enough as the Cowgirls hit on just 17 percent of their field goal attempts compared to 27 percent shooting for the Outlaws.

Rylee Weber led a balanced Outlaw scoring effort with 14 points, while Olivia Hougham finished with 13 and Stewart chipped in with 10.

For the third consecutive game, the Cowgirls played with a patchwork lineup.

The previous two games the team played shorthanded as several players did not get on the bus for games at North Marion and Cottage Grove.

This time, several players were being disciplined for either missing games or practices and were not allowed to start.

"There were kids that had to sit because I have to show them that you aren't going to play if you can't be here for practice or games," Lea said. "So that hurt us, and I know that there were some upset feelings, but when you miss two games, then that kind of happens.

On Thursday afternoon, the Cowgirls faced off against Molalla, who lost 43-40 to Banks on Wednesday.

The winner will face the winner of a game between La Grande and Madras on Friday at 4 p.m. while the two losers will play at noon on Friday.

Sisters 44, Crook County 36

At Sisters

Crook County (36) — Rylee Troutman 15, Smith 7, Thompson 6, Templeton 4, Kump 4, Searcy, Ptomey, Kasberger, Christiansen, Connolly, Mode. Totals 11 13-27 36.

Sisters (44) — Rylee Weber 14, Houghman 13, Stewart 10, Sundstrom 4, Smith 3. Totals 15 12-24 44.

Crook County 12 6 6 12 — 36

Sisters 7 13 14 10 — 44

3 point goals — Crook County: Troutman; Sisters: Stewart 2

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