Crook County gets behind early in Hermiston and loses 73-52, then rebound to beat Pendleton 63-50

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Paige Buswell and a Pendleton player fight for a rebound during the Cowgirls victory over the Buckaroos on Saturday.

The Crook County High School girls basketball team played well but went down to defeat against fifth-ranked Hermiston on Friday, then defeated seventh-ranked Pendleton on Saturday.
   "I was pleased with the quality of basketball that we played," said Head Coach Kurt Sloper. "They are both solid teams and both of those places are tough places to go to on the road and get a win. "I thought we had great effort there against Hermiston. We just fell a little short there in the first half."
   On Friday, Jan. 4, the Cowgirls got off to a slow start trailing 19-7 at the end of the first period and 42-22 at halftime before falling 73-52.
   "They just really executed well," said Sloper. "I thought that the effort was there and I thought we played good down the stretch in the second half."
   Crook County played Hermiston even in the second half, but it was too late.
   Jessica Lea led the Cowgirls in scoring with 14 points while Kaitlyn Duncan added 13.
   Hermiston had balanced scoring with four Bulldogs in double figures led by Hannah Whitsett with 16, and Briana Stacona with 15.
   The Cowgirls shot fairly well for the game, going 14-16 from the free throw line, and making six three-pointers, but Hermiston took advantage of superior rebounding and second chance baskets to outscore Crook County.
   "I thought we played pretty well in the second half, so we were looking to take some of that momentum from the second half into Pendleton and get off to a good start," Sloper said.
   Cowgirls start strong at Pendleton, never trail in win
   The Cowgirls did exactly that, jumping out in front of the Pendleton Buckaroos 20-12 at the end of the first quarter Saturday and then extending their lead to 20 points midway into the third quarter before winning 63-50.
   "We focused on getting things going early and our kids really came out and did well by putting some pressure on the ball and forcing some turnovers," Sloper said. "We really executed our offense well and that was the story of the game."
   The Cowgirls held all-league post player Lynette Minthorn to 12 points on the night, while once again Lea led Crook County in scoring with 28 points.
   "Our posts did a great job of collapsing down on her," said Sloper. ""We just rotated a lot of kids through there guarding her and we fronted her and double-teamed her, even triple-teamed her. It was physical. Every kid that we sent in was undersized in comparison to Minthorn. It was a gutsy performance from our posts and I thought it made a huge difference in the game."
   Crook County is off until Friday, Jan. 11, when they play a home game against the Madras White Buffaloes. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
   Madras has had trouble finding victories this year and is off to a 1-10 start, but Sloper notes that they are a scrappy team and should not be taken lightly.
   "We feel pretty confident with a big win against a ranked team," said Sloper. "Hopefully we can keep this momentum going right now and be peaking at the right time. We've got seven of our next nine games at home, so that is a good thing for us. If we can come out to a strong start and kind of set the tone of the game we can put ourselves in the best position to win."
   Friday, Jan. 4
   Crook County (52) - Jessica Lea 14, Duncan 13, K. Wilcox 9, Fulton 4, Cary 3, Severance 3, Buswell 2, Stafford 2, Herrera 2, Dunn, J. Wolcox, Verity, Crofcheck, Hehn. Totals 16 14-16 52.
   Hermiston (73) - Whitsett 16, Stacona 15, Royer 13, Davis 10, Rowan 8, Pedro 5, Coombs 4, Cobb 2, Hays. Totals 28 9-16 73.
   Crook County 7 15 15 15 - 52
   Hermiston 19 23 11 21 - 73
   Three-point goals - Crook County: Duncan 3, Lea 2, Wilcox 1. Hermiston: Whitsett 3, Stacona 3, Davis 1, Royer 1.
   Saturday, Jan. 5
   Crook County (63) - Jessica Lea 28, Duncan 9, Cary 5, Crofcheck 3, K. Wolcox 6, Severance 3, Fulton 2, Herrera 7, Buswell, Stafford, Kelso, Verity, J. Wilcox. Totals 21 15-21 63.
   Pendleton (50) - Alexis Doutre 15, Sanchez 4, R. Treloar 3, Beamer 9, S. Treloar 7, Minthorn 12. Totals 18 14-26 50.
   Crook County 20 16 17 10 - 63
   Pendleton 12 15 8 15 - 50
   Three-point goals - Crook County: Lea 5, Cary 1. Pendleton: none.
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