Creek falls late to Claiborne Christian

Ava Hartwell scored six points in Cedar Creek’s 53-49 loss to Claiborne Christian Tuesday (photo by Darrell James).

By Malcolm Butler

After almost sleep walking through the first two quarters, Cedar Creek turned up the defensive intensity in the second half before falling late in a 53-49 loss at Claiborne Christian Tuesday night.

The Lady Cougars were a step slow in the first two quarters and found themselves trailing by as many as 11 and by a 25-17 halftime score thanks to a three-pointer by Allie Furr in the closing seconds of the second quarter.

The biggest issue for the Cougars in the first half was the inability to pull down defensive rebounds as the Lady Crusaders cashed in on numerous second chance opportunities.

“I thought in the first half, we didn’t do a good job of anything really,” said Creek head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg. “We were getting out-efforted; out-hustled; out-toughed. But in the second half we challenged them.”

The challenge worked. The Lady Cougars awoke.

Utilizing a full-court press, Creek forced turnover after turnover after turnover. Trailing 35-24, Cedar Creek used a 12-2 run to close out the third quarter to cut the deficit to 37-36. Furr scored seven of her game-high 24 points in the stanza as the Lady Cougars outscored the Crusaders 19-12.

“That third quarter we did a good job of out-playing them,” said Vandenlangenberg. ‘We did that through the entire second half until the last minute and a half. We scrapped in the second half. We fought. We showed toughness. It was a fun half to watch. I can watch and coach that all day long.”

The fourth quarter began with a steal and layup by Furr that gave the Lady Cougars a 38-37 lead, its first since it was 4-2 early in the first quarter. Creek pushed the lead out to 47-43 with 3:45 remaining in the game before being outscored 10-2 over the final minutes.

“I don’t know if fatigue came in to play coming off of Thanksgiving,” said Vandenlangenberg. “I don’t know. We just ran out of gas.”

Despite the loss, Vandenlangenberg was happy with the fight he saw from his team after falling behind early.

“So we lost the game,” he said. “Big picture is if we can learn to be tough from the beginning and play with effort … if we can do that we can be a very good team.”

Ava Hartwell added six points for the Lady Cougars while Ellie Dickerson added five points. Lizzie Mcadams, Lillian Soto, and Leah Sutherland each scored four points.