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After a thrilling week where they took down Lake Oswego in stunning fashion, the Canby Cougars boys basketball team returned to the status quo the following week. The boys followed that up by topping Lakeridge for the ninth consecutive game before losing to West Linn, a team they have not beaten since 2011.
In their first matchup of the week against Lakeridge (4-18, 0-11 TRL), the Cougars (13-9, 4-5 TRL) got off to a strong start, led by senior center Jacob Strand, who scored the first five points of the game.
Strand would go on to put in nine of his 11 points on the night in the first quarter as Canby sprung out to a 20-11 advantage.
From there, it was all Cougar defense. Payton Meyers made sure to get offensive highlights of his own with an all-too-easy, fast-break dunk, but the Canby D was nearly impenetrable.
Canby’s defense would allow only seven total points in the second and third quarters. After such a dominant performance, the Cougar lead ballooned to 37 at the end of the third.
Payton Meyers, the Cougars’ leading scorer, had 22 points on the night — only three less than his 25-point performance against the Pacers earlier in the year.
When Canby faced Lakeridge one month earlier, they needed every one of Meyers’ 25 in a game where they trailed in the third. This time around, Meyers had all of his 22 before the third ended.
Cougar star Alex Evans finished the night four dimes shy of a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Evans joined the rest of the team in cheering on his cousin Tanner Van Mater in the final minutes of the game.
Van Meter, getting his first varsity minutes, launched a bomb from deep behind the arc — a shot that closely resembles the ones his cousin so often takes — and buried a trey as the Canby bench exploded.
Van Meter’s shot capped off a dominant game that the Cougars lead wire-to-wire, winning 67-34. Though Lakeridge has lost all of their Three Rivers League games this year, Canby head coach Craig Evans was impressed by his team’s focus.
“I was really impressed with how focused we were. We didn’t take them lightly,” Evans told the Current. “I also liked our ability to maintain a lead and gain that lead at end of game.”
Two days later against West Linn (17-2, 9-1 TRL), the Cougars pushed close, but ultimately came up short against the No. 3-ranked Lions. The game was knotted at 38 at the half, but the Cougs fell down 10 and were not able to come back.
Though Canby inched within five with three minutes left, West Linn star Jackson Shelstad’s 22 points were too much for the Cougars as the Lions won 71-61.
Meyers once again had 22 on the night, and Kellan Oakes had one of the best scoring performances of his career with 17 points. What doomed the Cougs on Thursday night was 3-point shooting. Canby got the looks that Evans wanted, but shot 1-15 from behind the arc in the second half.
“That game shows you how good we are,” Evans said. “Talent-wise, we can be a top 10 team, but some things have to go your way. We got some good looks, but they just didn’t fall.”
The Cougars won’t get any time to rest as they head into their final week of the regular season. Thanks to a postponed game from January, the Cougs will finish off the season with three TRL games on the week.
Canby will face Oregon City on the road before hosting No. 1 Tualatin and capping the season on Senior Night against Tigard.
Ranked No. 19 in the state, the battle-tested Cougars are prepped for their second straight year in the OSAA playoffs. Senior Night on Tigard is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
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