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The Canby Cougars entered the Nike Interstate Shootout this weekend with only two games under their belt, which they split. Sitting at 1-1 with a victory over 5A North Salem, the young and relatively inexperienced squad still had a lot of questions left for first-year head coach Ingrid McCoy to answer.
What a difference a few days can make. By Tuesday, Canby (4-1) had rattled off three straight wins, stifled opposing offenses and downed one of the best teams in the state to capture the Interstate Shootout White Bracket Championship crown with this amazing buzzer-beater:
Elite Oregon Girls on Twitter: “TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!!! RayAnne Schedler hits the buzzer beater to upset 5A #2 Putnam and crown the Canby Cougars as Nike Interstate Shootout Champions!! 🚨🚨🏆 @CanbyAthletics @CanbyCurrent @CougarCountryOR pic.twitter.com/wsMMGPI3Ob / Twitter”
TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!!! RayAnne Schedler hits the buzzer beater to upset 5A #2 Putnam and crown the Canby Cougars as Nike Interstate Shootout Champions!! 🚨🚨🏆 @CanbyAthletics @CanbyCurrent @CougarCountryOR pic.twitter.com/wsMMGPI3Ob
McCoy credits a strong defensive foundation as the key to the team’s success.
“I’ve been impressed with the effort and energy that the girls bring on the defensive end of the floor,” said McCoy, who is 4-0 in her first year as a head basketball coach after missing the season opener — the lone loss in the 2021-22 campaign so far. “Hard work and commitment to the game plan have proven to be the biggest factors for our success at this point.”
The Cougars began their tournament journey on Saturday with a 49-34 win over McDaniel (1-4). The suffocating Cougar D — which has allowed opponents to score over 40 only once so far this season — caused all sorts of problems for the Mountain Lions in the resounding win.
Canby continued their stringent defense with a grueling 36-25 win over Newberg (4-4). Their second victory in two days set up a date with the No. 2-ranked team in 5A — the Rex Putnam Kingsmen, who were fresh off of a 47-14 beatdown of Sprague.
Putnam (5-2) entered the game averaging 58.3 points per game and had outscored their other Shootout opponents 99-53 in two contests. But three quarters into their tilt with the Cougs, the Kingsmen had managed barely half that (30).
McCoy put senior Mallory Block on the Kingsmen’s best shooter, and she delivered — keeping her from hitting a single 3-pointer in the game.
But Putnam was not about to make it easy for the Cougs. After leading 39-30 at the end of the third quarter, Canby gradually let Putnam back in the game. When the Kingsmen converted a bucket with seconds remaining on the clock, they had clawed their way back to an even contest, with the score tied at 45.
That would set up the thrilling finish that’s sure to be the talk of Canby sports fans for years to come.
Following a Cougar timeout, senior guard Allie Mead deftly split a double team before finding center RayAnne Schedler open near the 3-point line. Schedler looked up at the clock and saw only a second left.
Schedler isn’t known for her outside shooting — but her runner from just inside the arc was smooth as silk, sealing the Cougars’ dramatic 47-45 victory as her teammates stormed the court.
“It felt completely unreal,” Schedler said as she recounted the final seconds after the game, “and to see my teammates and coaches come together after the close, hard-fought game was just incredible.”
McCoy herself admitted the play she drew up during the break was more to break the press — not win the game.
“That last play was half drawn up, but I cannot take all the credit for that,” the Cougar head coach said. “I specifically drew up the inbounds as we had struggled and turned it over a couple of times in the last couple minutes of the game.”
Instead, the last-second victory launches the Cougars to a 4-1 record and up to No. 18 in the OSAA state rankings. For a team that came into the season with muted expectations, the scrappy Cougs have coaches and players like Schedler excited for the rest of the year.
“Seeing what we can do with only five games under our belt makes me super excited for the rest of the season,” Schedler said. “We have lots of time to grow and fix little things before league, but I think we’ve created a great base for it being so early in the season.”
The Cougars will be off for Christmas before returning back to action with another three-day tournament. Canby will be participating in the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic at McDaniel High School from December 28-30.
As members of the Rose City Bracket, the Cougars will first face the Sunset Apollos on December 28. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m.
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