Cougars Stay Hot with 2-1 Showing at Pacer Tournament

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The Canby Cougars boys basketball team is off to their hottest start in 15 years, and they kept the strong start going in their three games at the Pacer Hoops tournament at Lakeridge High School.

After a 60-53 win over Southridge in the first round, the Cougs suffered their first loss of the season in a 44-73 blowout against North Medford — the No. 2-ranked team in the state. Fortunately, Canby was quickly able to recover, beating the Sunset Apollos 85-79 to improve their record to 6-1 on the season.

If the Cougars’ matchup against Southridge (5-4) sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Canby met Southridge in their second game of the season, winning the home matchup 77-68. Payton Meyers, who scored 32 on the Dec. 8 win against the Skyhawks, led the way for the Cougars with 20 in the rematch nine days later.

The game was close throughout the first three and a half quarters, with neither team taking a lead larger than seven until the waning minutes. Alex Evans scored 11 in the third quarter to give the Cougs the boost they needed to down the Skyhawks a second time. Evans would finish the game with 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

Saturday’s matchup against the No. 2 team in the OSAA Oregon rankings, the North Medford Black Tornado (7-1), saw the Cougars’ seven-game win streak (dating back to the 2020-21 season) come to a close.

Canby held the lead in the early minutes of the second quarter before the Black Tornado stepped on the gas; the Cougars were outscored 42-19 in the second half and dropped a game for the first time this season.

Evans and Meyers had their worst shooting performances of the young season, combining for 10 points on 4-23 shooting. Kellan Oakes was the lone Cougar in double figures, scoring a season-high 14 points on the afternoon.

Treyson Neff lead North Medford with 22 points, as the Black Tornado would shoot 55% from the field and score 22 points off of turnovers.

Despite the loss, Meyers saw Sunday’s loss as a positive for the future.

“We learned what can happen if we take someone lightly and what we can and can’t do versus a very good team like them,” the senior told the Current. “I think the loss was a good thing to show us that we still have a lot of work to do.”

Canby made sure that Sunday’s appearance against Sunset (2-5) would not result in another loss. The Cougars held on for their sixth win of the year, taking down the Apollos 85-79 — their second game over 80 points.

Meyers rebounded from his four-point performance the day before, erupting for a season-high 35. Coming into the season, only Diego Arredondo had scored over 30 points twice for the Cougars in the last five years. Meyers has broken the 30 point threshold twice in seven games.

“I came into the Sunset game way more aggressive and focused,” Meyers said, “and it helps when you have a great point guard in Alex who will find you whenever.”

Evans found Meyers on multiple occasions to torch the Apollo D, and recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 assists. Jacob Strand and Mikey Gibson both recorded career-high point totals, with Strand scoring 15 and Gibson tallying 12 on the night.

The 6-1 Cougars will break for Christmas before returning home to host the Canby Tournament. The boys will once again play three games in three days, taking on Glencoe, Thurston, and Evergreen (Wash.). Tip-off for the Glencoe game is scheduled for Tuesday, December 28th at 4 p.m.

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