Two late free throw by Rory Priday secure narrow win for cagers

by: FRED HOUSTON JR./CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Chad Howard gets double teamed during the Cowboys win over The Dalles-Wahtonka on Saturday.

The Cowboys eked out a 42-41 win over the Hood River Valley Eagles at home on Saturday.
   Down four points from the Eagles' quick start, Rory Priday started the action for the Cowboys. Finding himself just inside the arc, Priday faked a pass outside, then marched down a lane that opened for a lay up. He put in seven points through the course of the game, second to Thomas McCarthy, who led the team with 12.
   The Cowboys let another handful of points through, but then went on the attack for an eight-point run. Chad Howard finished the run, claiming the lead with a three-point shot after a lengthy skirmish about the key. The Cowboys refused to relinquish that lead for the rest of the game.
   "It felt good to lead the game, and have control of the game," said McCarthy, who contributed three shots of his own outside the arc, the Cowboys high for the game.
   But though they finished the first quarter with a comfortable seven point lead, 19-12, it would be a long haul before the match was decided. The second and third quarters saw some good plays by the Cowboys, but too few resulted in scores. The Eagles took the opportunity to narrow their deficit. By the fourth quarter, it was anyone's game with Crook County holding a narrow 32-29 lead.
   What secured the Cowboys win? "Knocking some shots down in the fourth quarter was probably the main thing," says coach Jeff Lowenbach. He cited the efforts of McCarthy, Priday, and Sean Santucci in the give-and-take that occurred as the game heated up in the last half of the final quarter.
   Even still, the results were out until the last second.
   With 22 seconds left on the clock, Crook County found itself with possession of the ball and a very slim lead, 40-39. Priday, knowing that time, though fickle, was on his side, moved cautiously down the court. His hand was forced by quick pressure from the Eagles' defense. A momentary fumble ensued, resulting in a foul. Priday sank both free throws, widening the lead, but the Eagles capitalized on the rebound for a last ditch effort. They managed to put in one more lay up before the buzzer, but not enough to steal the game. Hood River Valley dropped to 2-4 in the Intermountain Conference.
   Saturday's win came as an encouragement to the Cowboys, after last Thursday's game at Bend high. Coach Lowenbach acknowledged that the team has been in a bit of a slump, but expressed hope mixed with determination for the rest of the season. "We've been kind of on the short end of some things recently, but all that matters is that we got a win. We would have liked to have an easy one, so we can kind of sit back and get things done, but there aren't any easy games in the IMC," he said.
   The Cowboys improve to 3-4. They play next at Summit, on Thursday.
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