When first-year Canby head coach Ingrid McCoy spoke to the Current after their win over Lake Oswego last week, she and her staff understood how much the win meant.
“Our staff realizes we have a very competitive league,” McCoy said. “Every win is important.”
In the Three Rivers League, especially, they can also be quite rare. After a 6-1 start to the year, Canby (7-7, 1-4 TRL) had fallen back to earth with a 1-6 stretch, including a 1-4 mark since league play tipped off. This week, they faced West Linn (7-6, 4-1 TRL) and No. 9 Oregon City (10-5, 4-1 TRL), falling in both matchups.
Canby’s first matchup of the week against West Linn meant more than basketball. Current Lion and former Cougar head coach Brooke Cates had her team wear special shirts in honor of Matthew Dewar, a student-athlete for Canby and Country Christian who was killed in a fatal crash on South Mulino Road in November.
Cates and the Lions began the game having to contend with McCoy’s pride and joy: Canby’s notoriously stingy defense. Four minutes, West Linn had managed to put only two points on the board as Canby got out to an early lead. The Lions’ offense was able to flip that into a 13-10 lead in their own favor by the end of the first, but Canby was not going away.
After MaKayla Ford’s two free throws with 3:57 left in the half, Canby was up 19-15. The shifty Cougar D was working magnificently, hounding the Lion offense and forcing turnovers to help give Canby the lead.
The Cougs, who are not known for their 3-point shooting, were also aided by a Kayley Borntrager triple during a 9-2 run. At the half, Canby was still on top of the stunned Lions, 23-21.
But, though the Cougars’ defense remained steadfast throughout the second half, the offense wasn’t able to keep up. Despite giving up just 23 points in the entire second half, Canby’s offense could muster only nine — including two in the third quarter.
The feeble attack opened the door for West Linn to slowly claw their way to a 44-32 victory.
The offensive struggles continued on Friday’s game at Oregon City. Canby managed only eight first-half points though, again, their strong defense helped keep them in the game, holding the ninth-ranked Pioneers to 21 first-half points.
The Cougars found more success in the second half, but were still never able to cut into Oregon City’s double-digit lead as they cruised to a dominant 55-31 win.
With their 7-7 mark, Canby currently sits just outside of the playoff picture, ranked No. 34 in the state. The top 32 teams qualify for the state playoffs. They’ll have a chance in their next tilt as they face a team that recently struggled even more mightily against Oregon City than they did: the Tigard Tigers (7-7, 1-3 TRL), who put only 22 points on the board in their loss to the Pioneers.
The Cougars will face Tigard on Tuesday before traveling to Portland to take on St. Mary’s. The game against Tigard is scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m.
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