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Country Christian narrowly beat Perrydale Thursday in a high-paced, exciting game.

by: CORY MIMMS - The Cougars celebrate seconds after the final buzzer blew. The Country Christian Cougars beat the Perrydale Pirates 34-33 on Thursday night, in a tie-breaker game for the number-one spot in the Casco League. It was an intense game on the court and in the stands, which were filled with high-energy fans for both teams.

It was a “playoff atmosphere,” Coach Russell Halverson said. “That can be scary for the younger girls, but they handled it well.”

Indeed they did. The Cougars were composed and calculated on the court against the very skilled and aggressive Pirates. Both Perrydale and Country Christian entered the game 11-1 in league play.

“I knew it was going to be a grinding game,” Coach Halverson. “It could have gone either way.”

But in the end, Coach Halverson contributed the win to three things: “Defense, hustle and heart.”

by: CORY MIMMS - The Country Christian Cougars, who secured the Casco League title Thursday night.The Cougars definitely showed a lot of all three. On the tip, Country Christian’s girls took possession of the ball, and Mariah Stueland collected the first points of the game, landing a two-point bucket. Moments later, Miranda Halverson put two points on the board, giving the Cougars a four-point lead.

But the Pirates weren’t to be discounted early on. They punched back with two quick buckets of their own that tied the game 4-4.

The Cougars didn’t let Perrydale take the lead though. Audrey Barden hit back-to-back two pointers that put the score at 8-4, Cougars.

Again, the Pirates struck right back and tied the game at 8-8. But once again, Country Christian didn’t give Perrydale the lead. The Cougars put five points on the board for the Pirates’ three, and the first quarter closed 14-11.

It was a very high-paced, intense first quarter, and though the second was lower scoring, it was just as intense.

Perrydale opened the second with possession. They set up for the shot, but it didn’t drop. The Pirates nabbed the rebound though and went for it again. The Cougars sent Perrydale’s Cheyenne Locke to the foul line. She sank both shots, closing the Cougars’ lead to 14-13.

Then Halverson and Stueland both nailed two-point baskets, stretching the point spread to 18-13. The Pirates and the Cougars held each other there until midway through the quarter, when Perrydale collected one point from the foul line.

With less than two minutes until the half, Halverson landed a two pointer, with an assist from Ashley LaPointe.

The Cougars sat on a 21-14 lead at the half-time buzzer. Country Christian was in a good position, but the Pirates had proved they could be deadly if given any leeway. The Cougars knew that though. Exiting the locker room, Coach Halverson simply said, “It’s a big one.”

Stueland opened the second-half scoring, dropping a two-point bucket and picking up a point at the foul line.

The Pirates hit one field goal and nabbed two points at the foul line, which put the score at 24-18.

It was a physical third quarter. The Pirates picked off a few sloppy Cougar passes, and they won the third, putting eight points on the board for the Cougars’ four. The third closed 25-22, Cougars lead, and it was either team’s game going into the fourth. The Cougars needed to play smart, if they wanted to hold the lead.

Halverson picked up the first points in the fourth. The Pirates carried their third-quarter momentum into the fourth though. With the Cougars up 27-25, Perrydale’s Sierra Grimsbo landed a three pointer that turned the tables for the Pirates, who took the lead for the first time.

The Cougars tied it 28-28 at the foul line, but the Pirates sank a two pointer seconds later that gave Perrydale the lead again, 30-28.

Then Kennedy Nofziger nailed a golden bucket from deep court. With an assist from Courtney McGrath, Nofziger sank a three-point basket and the Cougars were back in the lead, 31-30.

Then Stueland landed a two pointer that gave the Cougars a three-point cushion. The Pirates didn’t let the Cougars keep that cushion though. Locke nabbed a steal and dropped in two points, closing the score to 33-32, and the clocked stopped for a timeout.

With the Cougars huddled together, stress showing on their faces, Coach Halverson rallied them. “Know that they’re going to come at you,” he said.

Back on the court, the Pirates did just that. With 35 seconds left in the game, Perrydale sent Barden to the foul line. She sank the first shot but missed the second. The Pirates collected the rebound and rushed down court. They set up for the shot twice but neither ball dropped.

The fans on both sides of the court were shouting and cheering as a foul stopped the clock with 3.9 seconds left in the game. Perrydale’s Grimsbo stepped to the line. She took the shot, and it dropped, putting the score at 34-33. Her second shot was off target. The Cougars grabbed the rebound and the buzzer blew. Country Christian’s fans erupted, as the Cougars had just taken a narrow, exciting win over the Pirates and secured the league title.

“Our defense was amazing,” Coach Halverson said. “Good, hard defense won that game … This was for the league title. It puts us in a good position for districts.”

Box score

Country Christian 34 vs. Perrydale 33

Thursday, Feb. 13

1 2 3 4 F

Country Christian: 14, 7, 4, 9—34

Perrydale: 11, 3, 8, 11—33

Stats: Cougars vs. Pirates, Feb. 13

Miranda Halverson: 11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal

Audrey Barden: 9 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 2 steals

Mariah Stueland: 9 points, 3 rebounds

Kennedy Nofziger: 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steal

Brittnea Corless: 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

Courtney McGrath: 5 assists, 3 rebounds

Anna Cunningham: 2 rebounds

Stephanie Christensen: 1 rebound

Ashley LaPointe: 1 assist

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