With a record of 2-6 in the IMC, 7-10 overall, the CCHS boys basketball team is sitting in a good position to make a run at a playoff spot. With seven games left in their season, the Cowboys are in fifth place in the IMC and need to secure one of the top four spots to play in the post season.
>With seven games left in the IMC season, the CCHS boys basketball team is in the hunt for a playoff spot
The team from Crook County helped its playoff picture over the weekend in eastern Oregon by splitting two IMC contests. The Cowboys fell to Pendleton Friday by a score of 81-74, before knocking off Hermiston 65-56. The Buckaroos (3-6 IMC, 7-11 overall) are in fourth place in the IMC, while the Bulldogs (2-7 IMC, 8-9 overall) sit in sixth.
"I was pleased," said CCHS coach Dave Davies about the road trip. "Of course, I wanted to get them both to take the pressure off of us."
With the season winding down, the Cowboys will have another chance to get past the two teams from eastern Oregon. Only this time, Hermiston and Pendleton comes to Crook County.
"It gives us an upperhand because now those teams have to come to us. We beat them both and we can lock up fourth."
On Friday, the Cowboys seemed to have all the right tools against the Buckaroos.
Crook County made 11 of 12 free-throws, the squad combined for nine three-point baskets, while five Cowboys scored in double digits.
"When you look at the box score, you think, gosh, we should have won because we did everything we wanted to do," Davies noted.
Senior Ryan McCarthy led the Cowboys in scoring with a 23-point effort, including five from long range, senior Andy Gray added 15, while seniors Gabe Lucas and Ryan Eckman each added 11 and junior Trevor Abell scored 11. The Buckaroos were led by a 21-point effort from Casey McLaughlin.
The Cowboys led by two points at the break and brought themselves out to a seven-point advantage in the opening moments of the second half.
The momentum started to turn for the Buckaroos in the third quarter, when a questionable technical foul was called on Crook County's Gray. The foul eventually turned into six points for Pendleton, propelling the Buckaroos to score 25 points in the third quarter and 17 in the fourth to grab the victory.
In the second matchup of the road trip, the Cowboys exploded out to a comfortable 31-19 lead at the half.
"For the first time all season, the ball was bouncing our way," Davies explained. "We were getting the bounces off the rim and getting the rebounds."
Eckman led the Cowboys in scoring with 22 points, while Gray added 14 and McCarthy added 12. Hermiston was led by a 20-point game from Luke Carter, but the Crook County squad completely shut down the Bulldogs' strong post Matt Bergstrom, who was held to just two points.
'I think we executed our spread offense the best we've ever done," Davies said. "We got a lead of about seven and then stretched it out to 22 in the third quarter."
The Cowboys committed 19 turnovers in the contest, most of which came in the final period. The lead of Crook County was too large for Hermiston to overcome, though, as the Cowboys held on for the victory and kept their playoff hopes alive.
The Cowboys will see action once again when they face the Lava Bears in Bend Friday night, before facing Mtn. View at home on Saturday.
"I think we can walk into Bend with some confidence because we played them within five points the last time we played them," Davies said.