The Canby girls basketball team made a valiant effort in their season opener vs. visiting Nelson Friday night, tying the score at 36 with under two minutes to go, but ultimately came up short in their bid to give new head coach Ingrid McCoy a victory in her Cougar debut.
Instead, the Hawks (1-0) barely escaped with the victory, 38-36.
McCoy herself wasn’t able to make the game, as she was attending her own wedding — an event most definitely planned before she learned she was being named the Canby head coach a few weeks back. In McCoy’s absence, assistant coach Pat Woodward stepped up to the helm for the first game of the year.
“The girls are very responsive to all of the coaches,” Woodward told the Current. “We truly approached the week, and game, as a ‘team effort’ by the coaching staff.”
Nelson jumped out to an early advantage, scoring the first seven points of the game. The Cougars hit a few free throws early on, but it would take nearly four minutes before Kaylee Borntrager hit the first basket of the game for the Cougs. Nelson led narrowly after one quarter: 14-12.
The Cougars opened up the second on a brief scoring run, hitting two layups and a free throw to take a 17-16 lead. From there, the offense for both teams cooled considerably. Canby was held without a bucket for five consecutive minutes before Allie Mead finally broke through, hitting a contested lay-in with 36 seconds left.
Despite the poor shooting in the first half, Canby’s defense stepped up, with the Cougars only trailing 23-19 at the half.
RayAnne Schedler scored the first five points of the second half, as the Cougars were content to attack inside. An open triple from Borntrager, the only one the Cougars would sink all game, cut the Nelson lead to two. Another Schedler free throw in the waning seconds closed the third quarter with Canby trailing 28-29.
With 4:45 remaining in the game, Canby regained the lead after Mead stole a Nelson pass and whipped the ball to Borntrager for an uncontested layup to give the Cougars a 36-34 advantage.
Alas, the cold-shooting Cougars would not score again for the rest of the game. Nelson gradually whittled away, hitting a free throw to give the Nighthawks a 37-36 lead with 57 seconds left. After Borntrager missed a potential go-ahead layup, Nelson hit a free throw in the waning seconds to hand Canby their first loss of the year.
It appeared to be a bad case of opening-night jitters for the Cougs, and the box score told the grisly details, with Canby shooting 24% from the field and a chilly 8% from beyond the arc. On the flip side, the Cougar defense also held Nelson to poor shooting numbers, giving up only 15 points in the second half.
“We had a tough shooting night with plenty of open looks,” said Woodward. “While we struggled shooting the ball on Friday night, I was proud of them for continuing to battle to the end.”
The Cougars pulled down 23 boards in the game, seven of them offensive, and tallied an incredible 15 steals as a team on Friday night. Individually, Mead and Schedler led the way with 10 points apiece, while Borntrager and Leah Smith contributed eight and four points, respectively.
The Cougars will be back, this time coached by the newly wedded McCoy, with another home game against North Salem on December 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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