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Cougars battle through 1A Hoops Classic


Both Country Christian's girls and boys basketball teams won the consolation championship in the 1A Hoops Classic.

by: CORY MIMMS - Levi Losli drives down court. The 1A Hoops Classic, hosted by Portland Lutheran, kicked off on Thursday with the Country Christian Cougars versus the Triangle Lake Lakers.

Girls: Cougars vs. Lakers

by: CORY MIMMS - Brittnea Corless goes for the layup.The girls varsity played first in a close game that Triangle Lake led 28-26 going into the fourth quarter. The Cougars opened the scoring in the fourth, as Mariah Stueland landed a two-pointer that tied the game 28-28.

The Lakers surged ahead, taking the lead off a mix of two-point baskets and foul shots, pushing the score to 34-28.

Stueland took one point off a foul shot, but the Cougars couldn’t get their offense to drop the necessary shots to overcome the Lakers’ lead.

Before anyone really knew what was happening, Triangle Lake pushed their lead to 42-31 before Country Christian was able to sink another basket. Miranda Halverson drilled a three, closing the gap to 42-34.

With the clock winding down, there would be no comeback in sight for Country Christian. The Cougars’ played tenacious and kept the pressure on until the final buzzer rang. Brittnea Corless made the final points of the game, which ended with a 46-36 victory for the Lakers.

Boys: Cougars vs. Lakers

Following the girls game, Country Christian’s boys stepped onto the court, also against Triangle Lake. The Lakers opened with a three pointer, but they didn’t hold the lead for long. Country Christian’s Avery Nofziger, Ben Grandle, Luke Carter and Jordan Syphard all put early points on the board, taking the Cougars to a 19-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Both teams played with high energy throughout the game. In the second quarter it was the Lakers turn to show that they weren’t going to roll over, as they showed the Cougars they could match them on both ends of the floor.

Triangle Lake made a quick two-point basket early in the second quarter. Carter responded with a two-point basket of his own, as well as converting two foul shots, giving the Cougars a 23-12 lead. The Lakers started firing on all cylinders, and went on a 9-0 run. As the period was halfway over, Triangle Lake had gotten the game almost back to even, trailing 23-21.

Seeing their hard-earned first-quarter lead slip away, the Cougars pressured the Lakers even more. Yet the Lakers stayed right with the Cougars, matching them shot for shot until the score was 29-28, Cougars’ lead, with less than a minute until the half.

Following a Cougars’ travelling violation that turned possession over to the Lakers, Triangle Lake’s Chad Steinhauer hit a two pointer. As the halftime buzzer rang, the Lakers sat on a one-point lead, 30-29, over Country Christian.

After the half, the Cougars pulled ahead again. Carter and Syphard beat feet in the paint, making layups that carried Country Christian to a 39-33 lead.

Just as they did in the first quarter, the Cougars again built a nine-point cushion, leading 47-38 as the quarter wound down. The Lakers got two quick scores, closing the Cougar lead to five points as the third quarter came to an end.

Going into the fourth 52-47, the Cougars needed desperately to shutdown the Lakers’ offense. Country Christian ramped up their defense, but playing with such intensity sometimes comes with a cost.

On a Lakers’ layup that didn’t fall, the refs ruled basket interference on the Cougars and awarded the two points to the Lakers.

The Lakers then tied the score at 54-54, and the real pressure was on for both teams to score.

Avery Nofziger answered the call for the Cougars, sinking a two-point basket that nabbed the lead. But Steinhauer followed it with two points for the Lakers seconds later, which tied the game at 56-56.

The ticking clock pulled the court tight, like a giant rubber band stretched between the baskets, ready to snap at any moment.

At 1:06 left, the Cougars threw in. They took their time setting up the shot, with the clock spinning down above them.

The Lakers defense wouldn’t buckle though, as they got a steal and pushed the ball down the court. They couldn’t convert the turnover into points, as the errant shot sent the ball out of bounds, but off a Cougar, so the Lakers still maintained possession.

With 19.4 seconds left, the Lakers inbounded the ball. Parker didn’t waste time driving into the paint for the layup. The basket fell. A mixed scream range out from the crowd, half joy, from the Lakers’ fans, and half disappointment, from the Cougars’ fans.

The clock had 8.8 seconds left on it and it was the Cougars’ throw in. Syphard passed to Avery Nofziger. Nofziger passed it back to Syphard, who pushed towards the three-point line, squaring up for ashot attempt that could win the game. The Cougar fans grew silent as the shot just missed. Triangle Lake took the win, 58-56.

It was a disappointing loss for the Cougars, who could have taken a 10 to 20 point win over the Lakers had they not had several minutes filled with mistakes.

Coming out after the holiday break is difficult, Coach Doug Nofziger said, adding that the team made a lot of “mental errors” that cost them the win.

The Cougars moved on to day two of the Hoops Classic in the consolation bracket.

Following their day one losses, both Country Christian’s girls and boys team stepped up big time against the Mitchell/Spray Loggers on day two of the Hoops Classic.

by: CORY MIMMS - Audrey Barden looks for an opening to set up the shot.

Girls: Cougars vs. Loggers

The lady Cougars opened with a burst of energy from Kennedy Nofziger. She stole the ball and put two points on the board off a layup in the first seconds of the game. Nofziger followed it up by cashing in for a three pointer, giving the Cougars the 5-0 lead.

But Nofziger wasn’t alone in grabbing early points for Country Christian. Miranda Halverson and Mariah Stueland also sank quick baskets, leaving the Loggers in an early 9-0 deficit.

Seeing the trouble his girls were having on the court, the Loggers’ coach called a timeout in the second minute of play. Back on the court after the timeout, the Loggers still struggled, as Country Christian continued to steal the ball, collect rebounds and swarm the Loggers at every turn.

Midway through the first quarter, the Loggers landed their first points, but the Cougars had already put 16 on the board. The Cougars didn’t stop building their lead either. Brittnea Corless and Anna Cunningham dropped shots that closed the Cougars’ scoring for the first quarter.

The Loggers got one more point, on a foul shot, before the quarter ended. But with a 24-3 lead, the Cougars’ victory was nothing short of assured.

Country Christian’s Ashley LaPointe nailed a three pointer to open the second quarter.

The Loggers took two more points on foul shots, and then Nofziger landed two for the Cougars. The Cougars didn’t collect points as quickly as they did in the first quarter, but they still played a hard eight minutes of ball.

LaPointe dropped two back-to-back shots that took the score to 33-5. Audrey Barden followed Nofziger with a steal and fast break down court, which she ended with a smooth layup that proved the Loggers were simply outmatched.

Rolling into the third quarter the score stood 39-7, Cougars. However, the shots didn’t drop much for either team in the third. By the time there was 5:30 left in the quarter, the score hadn’t changed. Then Stephanie Christensen grabbed a rebound and was back up for two points.

The Cougars collected 16 more points in the fourth and closed the game with a huge 63-13 lead.

Coach Russell Halverson was happy with the day-two win. “It’s a good confidence builder,” he said, adding that the Cougars have had a very tough preseason lineup.

Boys: Cougars vs. Loggers

The Cougars grabbed possession on the tipoff, and Avery Nofziger took the first shot, but it didn’t drop. Cooper Nofziger got the rebound and put it in for two though.

The Loggers quickly responded with two points of their own, but the Cougars didn’t let the Loggers keep the tie for long. Luke Carter took a shot and put the Cougars back in the lead by two.

The Cougars continued sinking shots through the first quarter. While the Loggers played hard and fast, they didn’t have the accuracy that the Cougars had. The first quarter closed 19-6, Cougars.

With a good lead, the Cougars bench began getting more floor time. Derek Halverson opened the second-quarter scoring, followed by Levi Losli. Austin Amaya also charged down court and took two points on a layup, giving the Cougars the 27-11 lead.

The Loggers matched the Cougars aggression on the court, but they simply couldn’t get their shots to fall.

Next up, Bend Grandle dropped in three and Avery Nofziger snagged two, with an assist from Amaya, that took the score to 32-11.

With one minute left in the half, Sam Grandle stepped onto the court. Though he didn’t sink any shots, it wouldn’t be the last play time he got in the game.

The half closed with the Cougars up 34-12, a score comparable to what Country Christian’s girls team left the court with at halftime of their game.

Jordan Syphard took the first points of the second half, running under the basket and making a layup over his shoulder. Whether luck or skill, the shot still counted, and he followed it up seconds later with a fast break and two more points.

It was another string of high-scoring minutes for the Cougars, who closed the third quarter up 54-21.

The fourth quarter opened slower, but it closed with big shouts from the Cougars’ fans. Sam Grandle stepped back on the court in the final minutes of play. He nabbed four points, closing the game 62-25 for the Cougars.by: CORY MIMMS - Sam Grandle puts the final points on the board.

Both teams moved on to the consolation championship on Saturday.

Girls: Cougars vs. Lions

On the girls side, the consolation championship pitted the Cougars against the Hosanna Christian Lions. The Cougars won 52-31.

Boys: Cougars vs. Honkers

Country Christian’s boys faced the Arlington Honkers in the consolation championship on the final day of the Hoops Classic.

The Cougars built a five-point lead in the first period, which closed 10-5. Arlington matched them point for point in the second, as both teams nabbed six points.

The Cougars dominated in the third period though. They put 20 more points on the board and shut down Arlington’s offense, which only secured three points. The third period closed with the Cougars sitting on a 36-14 lead.

Similar to the second period, the fourth was lower scoring for the Cougars. Arlington was able to get another six points, while the Cougars only took five. The game closed with the 41-20 win for the Cougars.