WALLOWA – After closing out their 2012-13 regular season campaign with a 10-point loss Feb. 8 to first-place Imbler, the WHS Lady Cougars appear to have most phases of their game in good shape for the district tournament, which starts Thursday, Feb. 14, at Baker City.

Wallowa’s 44-34 loss in the Cougars’ only game last week showcased effective defense and some steady ball-handling as the Cougars committed only 16 turnovers. Wallowa led 10-8 after one period, but then the offense went completely flat in stanza number two, sending the Cougars into the locker room at half-time trailing 22-15.

In the second half, mainly on the strength of continued strong defensive play, Wallowa kept the Panthers within striking distance, but the Cougars’ own offense never did provide the needed surge.

“I felt pretty good about the things we did, except [on offense WHS took] a lot of quick shots and consequently the shots were bad,” WHS coach Greg Oveson explained. Too many times, he said, the Wallowa offense brought the ball downcourt, made only one pass and then shot, usually without a teammate being in position to rebound.

It therefore should be hardly any secret what the team will be concentrating on during their two practices tuning up for the district tourney.

“We need to relax and do a better job of running our offense than we did. We’ve got two days to correct that,” Oveson said.

If they can get their offense on track, Wallowa’s prospects for earning a state berth aren’t bad at all. “The girls are feeling pretty good about the way we’re playing,” Oveson said. At district, he said, “it’s a case where anybody can win it.”

Wallowa, with a 3-7 league record, draws Cove, also 3-7, in first-round action Thursday. The loser of that game goes home. Three of the Old Oregon League’s six teams will go to state.

Wallowa stats vs. Imbler:

Scoring: Taylor Harshfield and Morgan Waters 7 points; Kristyn Young and Samantha Johnston 5; Sally Mary Blair and Mikayla Frei 4; Shai Allen 2.

Blair led in rebounds with 7.

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