The Wallowa High School girls varsity team took on the Elgin Huskies Friday, January 25, at Elgin and came away with a 45-37 win despite a slow start. The Cougs trailed 3-10 at the first quarter but closed the gap to three, 15-18 at the half. The third quarter ended with the girls down 23-26 before catching fire in the fourth and won going away. Coach David Howe said that sickness overcame several of the players over the week, causing several missed practices.
Jamie Johnston led Cougs’ scoring with 16 points, followed by the always reliable Shanna Rae Tillery with 10 in the till. Riley Ferre snagged eight points while Ella Moeller donated six points to the win.
Howe noted the offensive and defensive performance of Riley Ferre, whom Howe said ties other teams in knots.
“Several of our younger players also stepped up and contributed, in particular Haley Brockamp,” Howe said. “Ella Moeller hit some key shots in the fourth quarter to pull us through for the victory.”
The girls took on the Nixyaawii Golden Eagles at Wallowa on the following day and came away with a 47-41 win, leading from the get-go after scoring seven points before Nixwaawii answered with points of their own.
Howe attributed the team’s success to an improvement in outside shooting, which he said helps open lanes for players in the post position.
“We made great strides in our mental approach to the game, now we know we can win rather than hoping we can win,” he said. “That is a huge shift from the beginning of the year. We still have a lot of work to do and I feel like we are just scratching the surface of what we could be. I’m very proud of the girls and the effort and sacrifices they are making.”
Johnston again led scoring with 17 points, followed by Tillery with lucky 13 through the hoop. Kyla Hook and Ella Moeller each scrawled five points in the playbook.
“We still have a lot of work to do, and I feel like we are just scratching the surface of what we could be,” Howe said. “I’m very proud of the girls and the effort and sacrifices they are making.”
The win was the fourth straight for the lady Cougs. They now have firm grip on third place in the league with a 6-2 record while sitting at 9-9 overall. They next play on Friday, Feb. 1 at Imbler at 6:00 p.m and Saturday, February 2 at Wallowa at 4:00 p.m.
The tom Cougs also made their presence known over the weekend, knocking the Huskies off the stoop, 36-35 in pitched battle. The boys didn’t make the victory easy, as they committed 39 turnovers but still managed to pull out the victory. Coach Howe noted that Elgin has great team quickness that cannot be simulated in practice, which accounted for some of the turnovers.
“Tristin Bales went to the free-throw line for 2 shots with the game tied and 2.5 seconds remaining. Howe said. “He missed the first and made the second after the ball touched every part of the rim.”
Iron man Christopher Nobles took on all comers and led scoring with 16 points, followed by Tristin Bales with eight through the hoop. Zeb Hermens placed seven through the net while Wyatt Prince chipped in with five.
“This was a game we really needed in order to give ourselves a chance to get into the district tournament,” Howe said.”
The Cougs narrowly lost to Nixyaawii the following day, 48-38. Bright spots included a team low 11 turnovers and hit 42 percent of their shots.
The always double-teamed Nobles led scoring with 26 points, followed by Zane Mallory with five on the books. Bales added three points to the total.
“Even though we lost on Saturday versus Nixyaawii, we played a lot better than the night before,” Howe said. “We played without one of our starting posts, Wyatt Prince, and sixth man Mason Moore.” The coach also noted that Mallory stepped up big for the squad on defense and on the boards in the absence of the missing players.
The tom Cougs are 3-5 in league play and 6-12 overall. Like the ladies, they next play Feb. 1 at Imbler while playing from home the following day at 5:30 p.m.