Bend holds onto first half lead to earn first IMC win

by: TIM STUMM/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Senior Sean Santucci gets ready to box out a Bend defender Thursday night at Bend.

   The Crook County boys basketball team came out flat in the first half and paid for it in a 58-48 loss to Bend High Thursday night at Bend. The Lava Bears (1-6 IMC) jumped out to a 23-10 lead en route to earning their first Intermountain Conference victory of the year.
   The Cowboys (2-4) failed to display the same intensity that propelled them to near upsets of Mountain View and Redmond in their previous two contests, but coach Jeff Lowenbach insists that overconfidence did not play a role in the loss.
   "Bend has had some bad breaks this season. They are much better than their record," said Lowenbach. "They played well and their win is a credit to them. I would not say we overlooked them in any way."
   Down 23-16 at the half, Crook County stepped it up in the third quarter - a period which has been their downfall several teams this year - and trimmed the margin to three at 35-32 with only seconds remaining. Bend, however, responded with a buzzer beater to increase their lead to five heading into the fourth quarter.
   The Cowboys charged out to a 6-0 run and took their first lead of the night at 38-37 when Kyle Huntley converted a steal into a lay-up with 6:45 remaining.
   The two teams traded baskets for the next three minutes but at the four-minute mark, the Lava Bears began to pull away.
   Bend closed the contest out with a 15-4 run. Crook County was forced to foul in the end and the Lava Bears held on, converting five of six shots from the line down the stretch.
   Thomas McCarthy and Rory Priday each chipped in 12 points for Crook County while Bend's David Hinchman led all scorers with 13.
   The Cowboys host Hood River Valley on Saturday at 2:45 p.m.
    "We are going to practice hard and try to forget about this one," said Lowenbach.
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