TURNER, Ore.– What a way to make a statement early in this season. Two perennial 4A playoff teams from 2016 looking to continue that trend into 2017 met on the hardwood Tuesday night with Banks coming to Cascade High School with both bolstering unbeaten records.
Fouls plaque each other as the Braves (3-1) led 9-5 after one, but once the fouls relaxed, the shootout and the war began.
Fast forward to the third, after scoring five points in all of the opening half, Halle Wright put the team on her back as Cascade rallied from a 22-16 deficit to lead in part of a 11-0 run as she produced rebounds on both ends of the court and 12 points in offense during the third as she helped direct her teammates on where to go while on the court.
Entering the fourth down 43-38, Wright continued to showcase her dominance, maybe too much as her and the offense found themselves being called for charges driving down to the basket with 3:21 left in the game.
But the Cascade defense held as Wright cut it to three with 1:40 left. The Braves Sydney Gregg bumps it back to four before Wright converted an ‘And-One’ opportunity with 44.5 seconds left in the game to make it a one-point deficit.
Looking to seal the win with 25.6 seconds remaining and up 46-45, Katie Ragsdale was fouled and walked to the line for some free throws.
She doesn’t convert the opportunity and the Cougars march down as Wright lands the dagger with a lay-up with nine seconds remaining.
“Championship teams, they fight until the end,” said Wright. “And that’s what we did, fight until the buzzer, there was 30 seconds left, they’re already celebrating. Coach drew up a pretty cool play, it wasn’t anything fancy (but) it got the job down. The fight was pretty awesome.”
Not out of the woods yet, Banks marches down when the Cascade defense pokes the ball out and following a scamper that had dribble the ball out-of-bounds with two seconds left and the Braves were deep in the Cougs territory.
Following a timeout, the Braves inbound the ball, but only to have Lexi Loukojavi put a hand on the inbound pass and as she gain possession of the ball; the buzzer went off with the scoreboard reading:
Cascade 47, Banks 46.
The crowd and the home bench erupted as Wright describes the putting her team on her back that second half as referring back to, and remembering, that Championship Title game last season when they lost to Sutherlin as motivation.
“State Championship game, that’s all I have to go back to,” said Wright. “I flash back and always think, ‘what could I have done more?’ and this year, it’s not going to happen, I’m not going to let my team fall under me and I’m going to keep everyone up and that’s what I’m planning on doing and that’s what I feel when I made that game winning shot.”
Wright finishes with 21 points in the game.
Though their homestand was brief, the Lady Cougars will be back to the road Friday when they travel to play Siuslaw Friday to look to go 4-0 on the season.
“I think we just got to keep up the momentum and keep practicing hard,” said Mariah Hollenbeck, the senior scored six points in the contest Tuesday.
Tipoff for Friday’s game is at 6pm.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald