Chewelah scoring leader Ben Johnstone drives against Newport.
Cougars face Riverside, Colville this week
The Chewelah boyâ€™s basketÂball team opened Northeast A League play with a pair of wins last week in three games.
The wins earned the hot CouÂgars a spot atop what promises to be a wild league race.
Back on Jan. 3, the Cougars opened up NEA play at Freeman (7-6, 2-1). Chewelah came out a bit flat and dropped a 62-46 deÂcision.
Chewelah was unable unable to get much goÂing in the first half against an aggressive, physical Scottiesâ€™ team.
â€śRight from the get-go, they were pressing and we didÂnâ€™t reÂspond too well,â€ť said head coach Rocky Verbeck. â€śThen they had that big second quarter and we didnâ€™t get back into it.â€ť
TrailÂing 38-18 at half, the Cougars came out in the second half and played a little better, but never threatened.
â€śThe kids battled,â€ť said coach Verbeck, â€śbut itâ€™s hard to come back after beÂing down 20 at half.â€ť
Cody UnÂfred scored 22 points for the Scotties, while Ben JohnÂstone dumped in 22 for the Cougars.
On Friday, Chewelah traveled to Nine Mile Falls to play Lakeside and came away with a hard fought 56-54 victory. The CouÂgars worked hard for an early lead and held a 28-22 lead at half. Chewelah managed to exÂtend their lead to eight points by the end of the third quarter, and they would need every point to hold on for the victory. Lakeside outscored the Cougars 16-10 in the fourth quarter and had the game tied at 50 when JohnÂstone gave the Cougars a 53-50 lead with a three-pointer in the final minute.
â€śWe got away with one there,â€ť said coach Verbeck. â€śWe did everything we could to give it away...with turnovers and missed free throws (1/9 in the fourth quarter). We were very fortunate to get the win.â€ť
Johnstone again led the CouÂgars with 15 points, while ConÂner Moffatt scored 13 for Lakeside.
Saturday brought the Newport Grizzlies (8-4, 2-1) to JHS and the Cougars treated the home crowd to an exciting game and sent them home happy with a 64-59 victory.
Chewelah held Newport star Jake Wiley to only eight first half points, but the rest of the Grizzlies chipped in to cut an early eight-point CouÂgars lead to four by halftime.
In the second half, Newport wasted no time erasing the defiÂcit and even pushed out to a seven-point lead before the CouÂgars responded and cut the deÂficit to 47-46 after three quarÂters.
CheweÂlah got going in the fourth quarter behind JohnÂstone. He hit three three-pointÂers from the corners and scored nine of his team high 20 points in the fourth.
The Cougars outscored NewÂport 18-12 to earn the five- point win.
â€śWe are fortunate to be where we are,â€ť said coach Verbeck. â€śNewport is really good and I think they just ran out of time on their comeback.â€ť
Wiley scored 17 second half points for a game high 25, while Derek Smith added 18 more for the Cougars.
Another contributÂing factor in the last two victorÂies has been the bench play.
â€śOur bench has been really key,â€ť Verbeck said. â€śThey give our starters a rest and we have had enough legs in the fourth quarter to respond.â€ť
This week the Cougars (10-3, 2-1) traveled to Riverside (4-9, 0-3) on Tuesday and on Friday Colville travels to JHS to wrap up the first half of NEA play. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Chew. 5 13 9 19--46
Free. 15 23 11 13--62
Chewelah--D. Smith 9, WhithÂington 1, Wiebe 0, Monasmith 0, B. Smith 9, Johnstone 22, Pugh 3, Long 2.
Freeman--Dresback 0, MacPhÂerson 0, Miller 19, Fish 0, Rice 0, C. UnÂfred 22, Ayers 2, PrimÂmer 0, Harter 7, Casto 1, Vander Linden 9, B. Unfred 2.
Chew. 16 12 18 10--56
Lake. 14 8 16 16--54
Chewelah--D. Smith 11, WithÂington 4, Wiebe 3, Monasmith 6, B. Smith 7, Johnstone 15, Pugh 10, Long 0.
Lakeside--Moffatt 13, Powell 5, Watkins 9, Perkins 0, Broderius 0, De.WatÂson 12, Wood 8, WidÂman 7, Schimke 0.
New. 15 15 17 12--59
Chew. 19 15 12 18--64
Newport--Konkright 10, Rapp 3, Bereiter 9, Schultz 2, Martin 5, Wiley 25, Douglas 7.
Chewelah--D. Smith 18, Whithington 0, Wiebe 0, MonasÂmith 7, B. Smith 8, Johnstone 20, Pugh 7, Long 4.
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