After falling to Culver and La Grande Crook County rebounds to roll past Sisters

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Gracie Kasberger goes in for two of her 10 points against the Culver Bulldogs. Kasberger led the Cowgirls in scoring all three days of the Sisters Invitational Basketball Tournament as the Cowgirls finished with a 1-2 record. Progress has been slow for the Crook County Cowgirl basketball team.

But make no doubt about it, the Cowgirls are getting better.

Proof of that came on Saturday in the Sisters Invitational Tournament as Crook County roared back from an early deficit to defeat the Sisters Outlaws 44-29.

It was the third time the two teams had met so far this season, and the Outlaws had won the previous two meetings.

"The girls had a lot more passion today," said Crook County assistant coach Jessica Mumm. "They came out with that fire that they weren't going to lose for the third time to the same team."

Sisters took a 10-6 lead at the end of the first period. However, the Cowgirls came back in the second, knotting the score at 16 apiece going into the half.

Crook County came out red hot to start the third period, opening up a 30-23 lead.

"We talked about what they needed to do at halftime, and they came out and executed in the third quarter," Mumm said. "That was the best third quarter they have played this season so far."

The Cowgirls continued to roll in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Outlaws 14-6 as they cruised to the easy win.

Gracie Kasberger led the Cowgirls in scoring with a career-high 17 points.

Kasberger got big help from Odessa Tramel-Green and Liz Barker, who were also in double figures with 10 points apiece.

As has happened all season, the Cowgirls had a big edge on the boards against the Outlaws.

McKinzee Mode snared 10 rebounds in the game, while Barker had nine, and Tramel-Green, Kasberger and Kennedy Buckner all grabbed six boards.

The Outlaws were led by Alexa Stewart with 10 points, while Meaghan Greaney pulled down eight rebounds.

According to Mumm, the key to the victory was how well the Cowgirls took care of the ball.

The team has been plagued with turnovers all season, but Saturday was a different story as Crook County committed just 18 turnovers in the contest.

The victory came after a pair of disappointing losses the first two days of the three-day tournament.

Thursday, the Cowgirls had an early lead against the Culver Bulldogs but were unable to hold it as Culver stormed back to take a 48-32 win.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Liz Barker pulls down a rebound in the Cowgirls' loss to the Culver Bulldogs. Barker finished with 14 rebonds in the contest. Then, Friday in the first round of consolation play, the Cowgirls struggled early against the La Grande Tigers, falling 52-36.

Still, even those games were reason for optimism, according to Mumm.

"It would have been nice to get that first win against Culver," Mumm said. "But it was nice thinking about the whole improvement that we are seeing, and I am happy with how we built. We placed really well Friday night against La Grande and then built on that today, so they made some really good improvements over the weekend."

Thursday, the Cowgirls hung with Culver for most of the first half.

The score was tied 9-9 at the end of the first period, and Crook County trailed by just a point with three minutes remaining in the first half before the Bulldogs went on a late run.

Culver took a 29-22 lead into the half, then extended their lead in a decisive third quarter as they outscored the Cowgirls 17-8. Both teams went ice cold in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs (8-5) still outscored the Cowgirls 7-2 as the pulled away for the easy win.

Kasberger led the Cowgirls with 10 points in the contest, while Tramel-Green added six, and Dallas Hutchins and Liz Barker scored five points apiece, and Sarah Connolly chipped in with four.

Barker pulled down 14 rebounds in the contest, while Tramel-Green snared 12, and Connolly grabbed 8.

Irma Retano led the Bulldogs with 14 points.

Retano also led the Bulldogs in rebounds with six.

Although they fell behind early against the Tigers on Friday, the Cowgirls were still competitive throughout the contest.

La Grande (4-6) led 12-8 at the end of one period and 26-17 at the end of the first half.

As happened against Culver, Crook County struggled in the third quarter as the Tigers outscored the Cowgirls 18-9 to take a decisive 44-26 lead.

Crook County played better in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers 10-8, but it was too little, too late as La Grande hung on for the win.

Once again, Kasberger led the Cowgirls in scoring, this time with seven.

Tramel-Green and Mode each added six, while Teagan Freeman pitched in with five.

La Grande's Camryn Collman was the lone player on either team in double figures with 14.

Once again, Crook County was stellar on the boards, grabbing 48 rebounds compared to just 22 for the Tigers.

Tramel-Green had a team-high 13 boards, while Mode finished with eight, Kasberger seven and Hutchins six.

Collman led the Tigers with six.

Not only did she lead the team in scoring and rebounding, Collman was also a force on the defensive end, causing the Cowgirls major problems getting into their offense, picking up 12 steals in the contest.

Crook County is now 3-9 on the year, having already earned one more win than they did in all of last season.

Mumm was excited about what the coaching staff saw from the team during the tournament.

"It was nice to see the team come together and get more of a feeling of playing together," she said. "We are starting to see some more cohesion between the younger and older kids."

The Cowgirls host the Sweet Home Huskies, 1-9, on Friday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Following the game against the Huskies, the team has just one more contest before starting league, a road game Class 5A The Dalles, 4-6, on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Culver 48, Crook County 32

Thursday, December 28

Sisters Invitational Basketball Tournament

Culver 9 18 14 7 — 48

Crook County 9 13 8 2 — 32

Culver — Irma Retano 14, Haessler 9, Gamboa 6, Bautista 6, Olivera 4, Alvarado 4, Scholl 3, Mendoza 2. Totals: 18 12-19 48.

Crook County — Gracie Kasberger 10, Tramel-Green 6, Barker 5, Hutchins 5, Connolly 4, Mode 2, Freeman, Simmons. Totals: 14 4-11 32.

Three-point goals — Culver: none. Crook County: none.

La Grande 52, Crook County 36

Friday, December 29

Sisters Invitational

La Grande 12 14 18 8 — 52

Crook County 8 9 9 10 — 36

La Grande — Camryn Collman 14, Lester 9, Rinker 7, Dunlap 6, Regan 6, Williams 4, Hutchns 2, Chamberlan 3, Gomez 1. Totals: 19 11-20 52.

Crook County — Gracie Kasberger 7, Mode 6, Tramel-Green 6, Freeman 5, Buckner 4, Hutchins 4, Connolly 2, Barker 2, Ptomey. Totals: 15 5-15 36.

Three-point goals — La Grande: Collman 2, Lester. Crook County: Freeman.

Crook County 44, Sisters 29

Saturday, December 30

Sisters Invitational

Sisters 10 6 7 6 — 29

Crook County 6 10 14 14 — 44

Sisters— Alexa Stewart 10, Huber 4, Bianchi 4, Head 4, Salisbury 2, Sundstrom 2, Hougham 1, Greaney 2. Totals: 13 3-13 29.

Crook County — Gracie Kasberger 17, Tramel-Green 10, Barker 10, Connolly 3, Hutchins 2, Buckner 2, Mode, Freeman, Simmons, Ptomey. Totals: Not Available.

Three-point goals — Sisters: None. Crook County: None.

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