Cougars win three during
Chewelah continues its unblemished run through the Northeast A League boy’s basketball league this winter. The Cougars swept three games last week, picking up wins against Kettle Falls, Riverside and Lakeside.
Chewelah downed visiting Kettle Falls last Tuesday, 65-23 and blasted Riverside 60-29. The Cougars held off Lakeside, 66-61.
The wins over Kettle Falls and Riverside were put away early, with the Cougars jumping out to big early leads and not letting up. The game against Lakeside was a much tougher, closely contested game that wasn’t decided until the final minutes. The offense may have hit its stride, and as always, Chewelah was playing aggressive, shutdown defense.
It starts with tough defense for the Cougs
“In the Kettle Falls and Riverside games, we got after it and opened the game up early,” said head coach Rocky Verbeck. “That was the goal; we are starting to play better as a team. We came out and hit some shots, built some momentum and kept building on that momentum.”
Coach Verbeck added that “defensively, we are still playing really well…we gave up a lot of points to Lakeside, but it was one of those games where neither team could really stop the other.”
Tired legs may have played a part for the Cougars; it was their third game of the week, although coach Verbeck felt that Lakeside also played a very good game.
“Three games in a week kind of wears and tears on you,” Verbeck admitted. ‘Lakeside is a good team, but we looked tired.”
On Tuesday, the Kettle Falls Bulldogs (6-10, 1-8) traveled to JHS and found itself trailing by double digits before even getting on the scoreboard. Chewelah took a 14-0 lead before Conner McKern got the Bulldogs on the board with a pair of free throws with 2:26 left in the opening quarter. The Cougars didn’t back off their stifling defensive pressure and rolled to a 32-7 halftime lead on their way to a 65-23 win.
Lars Berger led all scorers with 15 points, while Derek Smith and Deylin Peone added 12 for the Cougars.
McKern led the Bulldogs with nine points.
Big early lead
The game Friday at Riverside (4-11, 2-6) mirrored the previous effort by Chewelah. The Cougars jumped out to a big lead early, turning a 21-6 first quarter lead into a 60-29 victory. Derek Smith had 17 points to lead the Cougars, while Brandon Smith added 13 and Peone scored 11 in the winning effort.
The Lakeside (6-10, 5-3) game on Saturday was much closer, but the Cougars still led almost the entire game, even with the Eagles hitting almost 50 percent from behind the three-point arc.
With the game tied at four in the first quarter, Derek Smith converted a three-point play to give Chewelah a 7-4 lead. That was a lead that the Cougars never relinquished. Twice the Eagles trimmed the Cougar lead to three points, but both times the Cougars responded.
Early in the third quarter, Spencer Reynolds hit a three-pointer to cut Chewelah’s lead to 40-37, but Ben Johnstone responded with a three-pointer of his own to put the Cougars right back up by six points. Chewelah went on to finish the third quarter up 54-44.
Big late bucket by Lars Berger helps seal win
With two-minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Eagles once again clawed their way back to cut Chewelah’s lead to 60-57 on a Conner Moffatt three-pointer, but once again the Cougars found an answer, this time when Berger converted a layup to extend the Chewelah lead to 62-57.
“Lars was a little mad there,” said coach Verbeck. “I guess he felt that Moffatt couldn’t hit another three-pointer and left him open. So Lars wanted to make it up.”
From there the Cougars cruised to the 66-61 victory. Derek Smith had 20 points, five assists and five steals to lead all scorers, Johnstone added 12 points and Brandon Smith scored 10. Caleb Wiebe pulled down 10 rebounds for the Cougars.
Moffatt scored 19 to lead the Eagles.
This week, the Cougars (13-3, 9-0) will put their 11 game win streak on the line. On Wednesday, Chewelah will step out of NEA play and host Panorama League member Northport (9-6, 5-5). On Friday Chewelah travels to Rockford to take on the Freeman Scotties (2-14, 2-6). Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. starts.