After opening the preseason with a win over crosstown rivals Enterprise High, the Cougars mens’ squad suffered two losses over the past weekend in the Elgin Lion’s tournament on Dec. 6-7.
Friday, Dec. 6 saw the Cougs facing off against one of Idaho’s finest teams, of Council, Idaho and coming up on the short end of a 62-29 score.
“At the end of the day, Council’s a heck of a team,” Coach Cody Lathrop said. “They really took it to us.”
Despite the score, Lathrop noted that the squad played great defense through the first three quarters. The energy expended in the defensive effort drained the Cougs as Council exploded in the fourth quarter for the win.
Coach Lathrop said that the squad had difficulty finding the bucket and if the squad had sunk even 30% of its shots, the score would have looked considerably different. In fact, even with the missed shots, Lathrop said the Council coach told him that because the Cougars did so well getting into position for shots, that he had to revamp his defense.
Zeb Hermens led the Cougs with eight points through the hoop while Mason Moore hooked seven. Tristin Bales and Willie Gibbs each contributed four to the cause.
“I know it’s frustrating for the kids,” Lathrop said. “Watching your shots go in and out is frustrating for the kids, and they’re playing hard on defense, but not getting rewarded on the other end.”
The following day saw the Cougs facing off against the La Grande junior varsity squad. This time, the score resulted in a loss by the less painful score of 46-29.
Lathrop said the squad played magnificently on defense with plenty of steals while offensively, the Cougs cut their turnovers dramatically. Still, the shots didn’t fall.
“It’s frustrating for them and it’s frustrating for me to watch them get in the right position, run the offense to perfection and miss the shot, but that’s part of the game,” Lathrop said. “Once those shots start falling for us, we’re going to be real tough.”
Bales led the Cougars with eight points while Hermens chipped in six and Moore knocked in five.
Ultimately, Coach Lathrop knows that the hard work his boys are putting in at practice will eventually pay off on the court.
“There’s some things we have to work on, and we knew that going into the weekend,” Lathrop said. “What we’re doing right now is remembering the goals we set earlier in the year and not letting the wins and the losses affect us. We’ll get where we need to be.”
The Cougs will stay in their den to meet Cove on Thursday Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. followed by at least two games at the Enterprise Winter Classic tournament on Dec. 13-14.