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Hoopfest showcases Crook County basketball talent

Boys basketball teams from fourth grade through high school perform at event

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jacob Mahurin pulls up for a jump shot over the defense of Pit Lee during the varsity scrimmage. Mahurin and the rest of the blue squad held on to take a 14-11 victory in the event.

Fans of boys basketball were treated to a marathon basketball event Tuesday night at Crook County High School.
   For the second consecutive year, the annual Blue and Gold Hoopfest showcased the entire boys basketball program in Crook County from fourth grade all the way through the high school program.
   “From a coaching perspective, having all levels of boys basketball teams together in one place was a success,” said CCHS head boys basketball coach Jeff Lowenbach. “We shot the ball decent and we played in front of a crowd and whistles, so it accomplished its purpose, but are we ready to play? Absolutely not.”
   Lowenbach added that he saw a lot of good things happen during the scrimmages. However, the high school team still has a number of things that they need to work on to get ready for their first game.
   The event, which was a fundraiser for the CCHS boys basketball program, began with a dinner and ended with the high school varsity team scrimmaging. In between was a raffle, an auction, and seven separate 10-minute scrimmages.
   Action started with the fourth and fifth grade white team shutting out the blue squad 10-0. The sixth grade blue team earned a 9-3 win before the white squads won the next four scrimmages. The white team took the seventh-grade game 17-9 then won the eighth grade game 6-4, earned a 6-4 victory at the freshman level, and then roared to a 16-8 JV win.
   When the high school varsity team took the floor, the blue team roared out to a 10-0 lead. However, the white squad battled back to make the final score close as the blue squad held on for a 14-11 win.
   If the scrimmage is any indication, this year’s varsity team has a new look. For the past few years, the team has played at a slow, deliberate pace. During the scrimmage, the team played an up-tempo, fast-paced game.
   “We ran the first three options on our fast break fairly well,” Lowenbach said. “But we broke down from there. We need to get a lot better before we are ready to play a game.”
   At times, during the scrimmage, the Cowboys showed the ability to shoot from long range. The team was also able to pound the ball inside to 6-8 post Dillon Dees and 6-5 post Michael Egbert.
   “I know we all probably would have liked to play better,” Lowenbach told the entire high school team following the scrimmage. “However, I liked some things that I saw. There were also some things I didn’t like. I saw us doing some things completely different from the scheme we worked on in practice. Just because there are people in the stands doesn’t mean that we can change what we are doing.”
   Despite the criticism, Lowenbach was quick to add that he believes that the Hoopfest was a good starting point for the season — both from a financial standpoint and from a basketball standpoint.
   “Overall I’m pleased,” he said. “We have a long ways to go, but so does everyone else and this was not a bad way to start.”