Redmond overcomes five-point halftime deficit to edge Crook County 45-43

The Redmond Panthers overcame an early deficit to edge the host Crook County Cowboys 45-43 in Tuesday night in Intermountain Hybrid basketball LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Andrew Sofich brings the ball down the court on a fast break. Sofich finished with six points and 11 rebounds as the Cowboys lost a close 45-43 game to the Redmond Panthers.

“If we would have shared the ball and worked the ball around like we did against Bend, we probably would have won by 15,” said a disappointed Crook County Head Coach Darin Kessi. “We are playing better, we just have got to play better than we are playing to win.”

The Cowboys played nearly flawless basketball for most of the first half of the contest. After Redmond took and early lead, the Cowboys rallied to score the final eight points of the first quarter to lead 13-7 at the end of the period. The Cowboys led 20-13 midway through the second quarter when Redmond called a timeout and switched to a zone defense.

The move proved to be pivotal to the game’s final outcome.

Although they still led 25-20 at halftime, the Cowboys struggled to get good shots against the zone. The Cowboys spent most of the first half pounding the ball inside against the Panthers, but once Redmond switched to a zone defense, Crook County seemed content to shoot from outside.

The Cowboys continued to lead for most of the third quarter, but struggled to score. Crook County led 31-33 late in the period when Redmond’s Michael Belmontes got open for a 3-pointer, giving the Panthers their first lead since early in the first quarter.

Arron Tavernia hit a two for the Cowboys to start the third quarter, tying the game 33-33. However, on their next possession, the Panthers took the lead for good on another 3-pointer by Belmontes.

“We did a good job defensively most of the game,” Kessi said. “I like what we did, but there were a few times that we lost their shooters. The Belmontes kid is a really good shooter and you just can’t give him a lot of room.”by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Blake Bartels is fouled on his way to the basket during the Cowboys' loss to the Redmond Panthers. Bartels led all scorers with 17 points.

The two teams traded baskets for most of the fourth quarter. Clinging to a three-point lead with less than two minutes to play, the Panthers went into a delay.

After running more than 30 seconds off the clock, Crook County’s Carl Kilthau finally committed a foul. Redmond’s Derek Brown missed the front end of his one and one. However, Panther post player Cody Winters got the offensive rebound and was fouled. Winters calmly sank his first free throw to make the score 43-39.

Crook County failed to score on their next possession and Winters was fouled again. Once again, Winters hit his first free throw to give Redmond a 44-39 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest.

However, the Cowboys staged a furious rally. Blake Bartels hit a quick basket to make the score 44-41. The Cowboys quickly fouled and Redmond’s Belmontes made just one of two free throws, extending the Panthers’ lead to 45-41. Seth Kessi then hit a driving two for the Cowboys with less than a second remaining in the game.

After a time out the Cowboys set up a full court press. Kilthau got his hands on the ball on the inbounds play, but was unable to hold on. The ball bounced out of bounds as time expired and the Panthers survived for just their third win of the year.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys fell to 2-15 with the loss as the team was left to wonder what might have been.

Crook County outrebounded Redmond 36-30 and was 15-33 from in front of the 3-point line. However, the Cowboys were a dismal 1-21 from behind the 3-point arc and hit on just 10 of 22 free throw attempts in the contest.

“I think I probably saw five or six threes that were good shots,” Kessi said. “The rest were .... Most teams don’t play a zone against us and we obviously haven’t worked on it enough.”

Blake Bartels led Crook County with 17 points while Redmond was led by Belmontes with 14 points.

Bartels also had four steals and four rebounds in the game. Andrew Sofich also had a solid game for the Cowboys. Sofich scored just six points, but pulled down 11 rebounds in the contest.

The Cowboys are at home again tonight when they host the Ridgeview Ravens in a must-win Special District 1 contest. Ridgeview won the first game of the three-game series, so the Cowboys must win both remaining contests against the Ravens to have any hope of reaching post-season play. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Redmond 45,

Crook County 43

at Crook County

Redmond (45) — Michael Belmontes 14, Winters 7, Moss 7, Brown 5, Aamodt 4, Troutman 4, Benson 2, Burrows 2. Totals 16 4-15 45.

Crook County (43) — Blake Bartels 17, Kessi 8, Sofich 6, Tavernia 5, Kee 4, Kilthau 2 Jones 1. Totals 16 10-21 43.

Redmond 7 13 13 12 — 45

Crook County 13 12 6 12 — 43

Three-point goals — Redmond: Belmontes 3, Moss, Aamodt; Crook County: Tavernia.

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