Cougars face Riverside, Colville this week
The Chewelah boy’s basketball team opened Northeast A League play with a pair of wins last week in three games.
The wins earned the hot Cougars 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 decision.
Chewelah was unable unable to get much going in the first half against an aggressive, physical Scotties’ team.
“Right from the get-go, they were pressing and we didn’t respond too well,” said head coach Rocky Verbeck. “Then they had that big second quarter and we didn’t get back into it.”
Trailing 38-18 at half, the Cougars came out in the second half and played a little better, but never threatened.
“The kids battled,” said coach Verbeck, “but it’s hard to come back after being down 20 at half.”
Cody Unfred scored 22 points for the Scotties, while Ben Johnstone 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 Cougars worked hard for an early lead and held a 28-22 lead at half. Chewelah managed to extend 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 Johnstone gave the Cougars a 53-50 lead with a three-pointer in the final minute.
“We got away with one there,” said coach Verbeck. “We 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.”
Johnstone again led the Cougars with 15 points, while Conner 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 Cougars lead to four by halftime.
In the second half, Newport wasted no time erasing the deficit and even pushed out to a seven-point lead before the Cougars responded and cut the deficit to 47-46 after three quarters.
Chewelah got going in the fourth quarter behind Johnstone. He hit three three-pointers from the corners and scored nine of his team high 20 points in the fourth.
The Cougars outscored Newport 18-12 to earn the five- point win.
“We are fortunate to be where we are,” said coach Verbeck. “Newport is really good and I think they just ran out of time on their comeback.”
Wiley scored 17 second half points for a game high 25, while Derek Smith added 18 more for the Cougars.
Another contributing factor in the last two victories has been the bench play.
“Our bench has been really key,” Verbeck said. “They give our starters a rest and we have had enough legs in the fourth quarter to respond.”
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, Whithington 1, Wiebe 0, Monasmith 0, B. Smith 9, Johnstone 22, Pugh 3, Long 2.
Freeman--Dresback 0, MacPherson 0, Miller 19, Fish 0, Rice 0, C. Unfred 22, Ayers 2, Primmer 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, Withington 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.Watson 12, Wood 8, Widman 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, Monasmith 7, B. Smith 8, Johnstone 20, Pugh 7, Long 4.