Cougars should be among Northeast A elite this winter

But St. Geo ruins Chewelah’s openerThe Chewelah Cougars boy’s basketball season kicked off the 2012-2013 season last Friday with a game at home against Panorama League power St. George’s.Unfortunately, shooting trouble from the free throw and three-point lines contributed to the 61-51 loss. A poor shooting night and foul trouble were the biggest obstacles to overcome for the Cougars, not the 21-point night from St. Geo post Dexter Sienko, according to head coach Rocky Verbeck. “We didn’t do a good job covering their shooters in the first part of the game and then having Derek Smith and Caleb Wiebe pick up their third fouls early in the second quarter really hurt us,” the veteran coach said. The Cougars hit only four of 21 from three-point distance and were nine of 19 from the free throw line on the evening. Coach Verbeck feels that isn’t a trend that will continue with this team. “We’re better shooters than that,” he said. “We’re not going to shoot that way all season.” Even with the foul trouble and the cold night from the field, the Cougars were still in position to make a run at winning the game heading into the fourth quarter. Coach Verbeck praised Chewelah’s bench for their effort against St. George’s. “They battled and got good help from the bench, and we were within five points going into the fourth quarter,” Verbeck said. “But we made a couple of mistakes trying to do too much and it kind of got away from us there at the end.” It’s the first game in a long season and the Cougars aren’t going to dwell on missed opportunities. “It’s good to have the first game out of the way and now it’s time to get ready for game two Tuesday against Deer Park,” Verbeck added.RECAPThe game against St. George’s started off well enough for Chewelah. Chewelah traded baskets with the Dragons early, but after working the inside with Sienko, the Dragons started to heat up outside. Three’s by Mark Kenney and Corey Spalding broke St. George’s out to a 14-10 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Derek Smith and Wiebe got into foul trouble with over five-minutes left in the half and from there, the Spokane school took advantage, hitting a trio of three-pointers in the final minutes to outscore the Cougars 23-16 in the quarter and take a 37-26 lead into halftime. After halftime, Lars Berger and Wiebe had to sit with more foul trouble. But Chewelah ratcheted up the defensive pressure, limiting the Dragons to seven points, while Derek Smith and Ben Johnstone combined for nine of their team’s 14 points in the third quarter. Chewelah trailed 45-40 at the end of the third. In the fourth period, the inside-outside game of the Dragons proved to be too much for the Cougars. Sienko and Kenney combined for 9 of the 17 points St, Georges would score in that final quarter, while threes from Brandon Smith and Deylin Peone wouldn’t be enough to keep the Cougars in the game. St. Georges was able to pull away in the game’s final minutes.Sienko scored a game high 21 points, while Kenney added 15 points on the strength of four three-pointers for the Dragons. The Cougars were paced by Brandon and Derek Smith, who scored 15 points each. Deylin Peone added nine more on a trio of three- pointers.THIS WEEKThis week the Cougars will play a pair of home games. On Tuesday, the Great Northern League’s Deer Park Stags visited JHS. On Saturday, Chewelah will host Class 2B power Northwest Christian. Tip-off is 6:15 p.m.