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Cowboys falter at the free-throw line in 51-46 home loss to The Dalles Riverhawks

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kaleb Savage goes to the hoop for two of his eight points during the Cowboys' Wednesday night loss to The Dalles Riverhawks. Crook County led much of the game before going cold in the fourth quarter of the 51-46 defeat. The Crook County Cowboys did enough to be in the game until the very end, but not enough to win as they fell 51-46 to The Dalles Riverhawks in a game that they probably should have won.

The home standing Cowboys led for much of the game but could never shake the pesky Riverhawks.

Crook County went cold late in the fourth quarter, and The Dalles took advantage, pulling away in the final minute for the five-point victory.

"I think the game was really decided at the free-throw line in a lot of ways," said Crook County head coach Darin Kessi. "Free throws and rebounds. There were stretches when they really got on the offensive glass, and we didn't box out real well and then they got multiple chances."

The Dalles outrebounded the Cowboys 40-22, with many of those boards coming on the offensive glass and leading to easy buckets. In addition, Crook County hit on just eight of 19 free-throw attempts, while the Riverhawks converted on 19 of 22.

Still, the Cowboys had plenty of chances to win the game.

Behind a solid defensive effort, the Cowboys led 12-6 at the end of one period.

When Kaleb Savage stole the ball and converted on an easy layup, the Cowboys led 19-13 midway through the second period.

However, The Dalles rallied, outscoring Crook County 11-4 in the final three minutes of the period to take a 24-23 lead into the half.

Crook County came out hitting on all cylinders early in the third period and quickly erased the Riverhawk lead.

The rally started as a Thaiden Mullan 3-pointer put Crook County up 26-24.

A Chase Bales three extended the Cowboy lead to 29-24.

Then came what easily could have been the turning point of the game.

After a Crook County miss and subsequent The Dalles rebound, the Riverhawks Javier Hernandez was called for a technical foul.

However, the Cowboys failed to capitalize on the break as Bales made just one of two free throws, and the Cowboys committed a turnover on the ensuing possession.

Still, Crook County led 30-24.

Moments later, a Savage layup extended the lead to 32-24.

Just when it looked like Crook County was about to take control of the game, The Dalles went on a run of their own.

Three-pointers by Javier Hernandez and Dakota Murr brought the Riverhawks back to within three at 35-32.

The Cowboys answered as Hunter Bishop hit a three at the buzzer to give Crook County a 40-35 lead with one quarter left to play.

Crook County went ice cold in the fourth period, failing to score in the first four minutes of the period.

The Dalles took advantage of the cold streak, eventually taking a 41-40 lead.

After a Crook County time out, the Cowboys worked the ball around and eventually forced a foul as Bales drove hard to the basket.

Bales made the second shot, knotting the game at 41 apiece.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Chase Bales throws up a shot as he is fouled under the bucket. Bales led the Cowboys in scoring with 13 but fouled out late in the game as The Dalles went on to win. A Riverhawk turnover gave the Cowboys a chance to take the lead, however, Bales missed an open look and Josh Nisbet grabbed the defensive rebound and dribbled the length of the court, hitting a driving layup as he was fouled by Bales.

Nisbet made the free throw, putting the Riverhawks up 44-41.

But the Cowboys continued to battle. A Savage 10 footer closed Crook County to within a point with 2:30 left on the clock.

Then came one of the pivotal moments of the game.

Crook County missed what looked like an easy layup. Bales crashed the boards hard, but landed on the back of Murr and was called for a foul.

Murr calmly sank two free throws, putting the Riverhawks up three with 2:08 remaining.

But the Cowboys refused to go away.

Mullan answered with a three, tying the game at 46 apiece.

Then, Kessi stole the ball, but instead of working the ball around for an easy shot, the Cowboys threw up a wild off balance shot, and Murr grabbed the rebound for the Riverhawks.

Murr was fouled as he brought the ball up the court and once again converted both free throws to give The Dalles a 48-46 lead.

The Cowboys had the ball back, still trailing by a bucket with under 30 seconds to play. However, they committed a turnover.

With time running out, Crook County fouled Jacob Hernandez, and once again The Dalles converted on both of their free-throw attempts, giving the Riverhawks a 50-46 lead.

Crook County had one last chance, but missed a pair of threes, before The Dalles finally got the rebound.

Jacob Hernandez was then fouled again and made the second of two free throws to ice the game for the Riverhawks.

"I liked the fact that every time The Dalles made a run we responded," Kessi said. "And I liked the effort. I liked that guys are coming in and giving us quality minutes, but it definitely stings. Hopefully that adds a little extra motivation as we head into the next game."

Murr, who was held to just two points in the first half, exploded for 18 in the second half to lead all scorers with 20. Nisbet and Jacob Hernandez were also in double figures for the Riverhawks with 10 points apiece.

Meanwhile, Bales led the Cowboys with 13, while Mullan was also in double figures with 10. Savage came off the bench to score eight, while Hunter Bishop scored five.

Murr also led all players in rebounding with 11 in the contest, while Javier Hernandez finished with nine for the Riverhawks.

Savage grabbed five rebounds to lead the Cowboys, while Mullan and Jordan Graydon each pulled down four.

With the loss, Crook County fell to 3-10 on the year, while The Dalles improved to 7-5.

The Cowboys do not play again until Wednesday, Jan. 17, when they go on the road to take on the Estacada Rangers (1-11) in the Tri-Valley Conference opener for both teams.

"We are working towards where we can put together an entire 32-minute game of really solid defense," Kessi said. "We are getting closer. Now, we have to gear up for a new season that starts next Wednesday."

The Dalles 51 Crook County 46

Wednesday, January 10

At Crook County

The Dalles 6 18 11 16 — 51

Crook County 12 11 17 6 — 46

The Dalles — Dakota Murr 20, Nisbet 10, Jac. Hernandez 10, Jav. Hernandez 5, Lee 4, Bonham 2, Knotts, Seufalemua. Totals: 14 19-22 51.

Crook County — Chase Bales 13, Mullan 10, Savage 8, H. Bishop 5, Kasberger 2, D. Bishop 3, Kessi 2, Graydon 3, Langley. Totals: 16 8-19 46.

Three-point goals — The Dalles: Murr, Nisbet, Jac. Hernandez, Jav. Hernandez, Bonham. Crook County: Bales 3, Mullan 2, H. Bishop.

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