OCS 57, Lady Cougars 31
Cedar Creek coach Gene Vandenlangenberg knew his one-loss Lady Cougars would have their work cut out for them entering Tuesday night’s district showdown with the No. 1 team in Division IV in Ouachita Christian.
He was right.
The Lady Eagles (26-2) used a 12-0 run midway through the second quarter to blow open a close game and cruise to a 57-31 victory over Cedar Creek (22-2).
Trailing 21-12 early in the second quarter, Cedar Creek guard Sarah Adams scored five quick points to close the gap to 21-17 with just under six minutes to play before the half. However, OCS’s defense forced a number of turnovers and the Eagles scored 12 unanswered to build a 35-20 halftime lead.
“I don’t know how many turnovers we had tonight,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We wanted to compete and executive offensively, but when you turn it over as many times as we did in the first half it takes away shot attempts. We just have to be more secure with the ball.
“Some of those turnovers were unforced. It wasn’t like we were being trapped. We just made a wrong decision and made a pass that we shouldn’t have made. Turnovers didn’t help us tonight. But at the end of the day, give them some credit. They made the plays and they made the shots.”
OCS, the defending state champion in Division IV, had a number of offensive weapons, including a trio of perimeter shooters. Cedar Creek started in a zone and eventually went man, but none of it slowed down the Eagles who hit seven three-pointers in the win.
“We made the decision that rather than come up with some sort of gimmick defense that we aren’t comfortable with … we decided to go out and play with what we are comfortable with,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We are a good team, and we defend well. We knew they had some good shooters. We wanted to go out and compete on OCS’s home floor. We had nothing to lose.
“They shot the ball well. We tried to do some different things. They have multiple shooters, and they just hurt us. I am proud of our girls. We just have to stay positive and keep encouraging each other. We have a good team. I think we can get some momentum going into the playoffs. We have some home games and I think we can build and ride the momentum into the playoffs.”
Lizzie McAdams scored the first six points of the game for the Lady Cougars who trailed 20-12 at the end of the first quarter. However, Creek was only able to get to the free throw line seven times and hit only one three-pointer on the night.
Adams led Creek with 11 points while McAdams scored six and Allie Furr and Millie Venters each added four.
Vandenlangenberg said his team can take plenty away from a couple of tough losses against Ruston and OCS over the past 10 days.
“We are trying to sell our girls that with tough competition you have to be ready to play every single possession,” he said. “We have to get some confidence back up and just make a run. I think what I take away from these two games that we just have to keep fighting.
“I think we needed the Ruston game and this game. We needed to be challenged. I think the timing is good. We have three more games that we can get back on a little win streak as we head into the playoffs.”
OCS 37, Cougars 36
After trailing almost the entire ball game, Cedar Creek came storming back in the fourth quarter to take a four-point lead.
However, OCS scored the final five points of the game to pull out the 37-36 victory in Monroe.
Creek led 9-5 at the end of the first quarter, but OCS outscored the Cougars 14-6 in the second quarter to take a 19-15 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Eagles (6-12) held onto the advantage throughout the third quarter, leading 28-23 heading into the fourth quarter.
However, behind back-to-back three-pointers from Connor Norris midway through the fourth quarter, Cedar Creek (11-13) rallied back. A Hayden McClusky free throw with 4:05 to play in the fourth gave the Cougars a 33-32 advantage.
Creek pushed the lead to 36-32 with just under three minutes to play but OCS scored five straight points, including a conventional three-point play with under a minute remaining to take a 37-36 lead. Creek had two final chances but a three-pointer and an offensive rebound and follow both came off the rim as OCS prevailed.
Bryce Rushing led Creek with 12 points while Norris added 11 points.
Photo: Darrell James (dgjames.photoshelter.com)