By Malcolm Butler
It had been almost four years since Cedar Creek’s girls had beaten Ouachita Christian on the hardwood.
That streak is over.
The Lady Cougars used a balanced offensive attack and a full-court pressing defense in defeating the Lady Eagles 47-35 Friday night at the Brickhouse, the first victory over OCS since February of 2019.
It’s just one win, but it was a big one for the Lady Cougars (14-4, 2-0) in a number of ways. OCS entered the game ranked No. 3 in the Division IV power ratings while Creek was No. 8.
“Our senior class hasn’t beaten OCS before,” said senior guard Allie Furr. “We came in wanting it really bad. We felt we had a good chance. We knew if we came out and played like we felt we could we had a good opportunity.”
Furr, who came into the game averaging more than 20 points per contest, scored just eight against the OCS zone defense. However, head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg complimented the play of his point guard.
“Allie was okay with playing her role,” said Cedar Creek head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg. “She was playing the scoreboard. As long as we are ahead and we are playing okay, she is going to accept her role. That’s maturity she is showing. She realizes the big picture. She will score 25 if she needs to, but tonight it was a fun game. It was a big crowd and the atmosphere was great.”
“It shows how much trust we have in each other,” said Furr. “I wasn’t really worried about my scoring. Lizzie (McAdams) and Olivia (Underwood) and Leah (Sutherland) and Elli (Dickerson) were all making their shots. As long as I got the ball to them, then they were making good plays. I wasn’t worried about me scoring if they were doing their job. I was focusing on getting them the ball.”
After an 8-8 tie following the opening quarter, Creek came out in the second quarter strong. Underwood hit a three-pointer on the first possession and McAdams followed with a three-pointer on the next possession as the Lady Cougars led 14-8. However, McAdams picked up her second foul with 6:50 remaining in the half and went to the bench.
The Lady Cougars full-court pressure and 1-3-1 halfcourt zone kept OCS off-balance in the entire game. Creek led 17-10 late in the second quarter when McAdams picked up her third foul with less than a minute to play and the Lady Eagles scored four quick points before the half to cut the Lady Cougars lead to 17-14.
“OCS has always done a good job of bottling things up for the point guard in that 2-1-2 zone,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We knew that opens shots were going to be hard to come by. That’s why we pressed them. I think we are better when Allie has the ball in the open court. When we play just a half court game, she can’t always do that.”
With Creek leading 22-19 midway through the third quarter, Lillian Soto converted a conventional three-point play and McAdam hit a three-pointer as the Lady Cougars pushed the advantage to 30-19. Creek continued to utilize its full-court press, forcing turnover after turnover by the Eagles.
“In the beginning of the game, we didn’t press and they jumped out to a 6-2 lead,” said Vandenlangenberg. “It felt like that was the pace they wanted to play at. They wanted us to have to play defense for 30 to 40 seconds. That’s not how we are wired. Once we started pressing, you saw the tempo pick up. We created some turnovers. But the most important thing is we weren’t having to play defense for 30 to 40 seconds because they were taking quicker shots. The press did what it was supposed to do and we fed off of that.”
“That’s how we like to play,” said Furr. “We like our games fast paced. If we can apply that type of pressure, then we have a good chance to win games.”
OCS (17-4, 0-1) used a 7-2 run to close the third quarter and trim the Creek lead to 32-26.
Furr got the Lady Cougars off to a strong start in the final stanza with a steal and a break-up layup followed by a Sutherland 18-footer from the baseline and a Soto putback. McAdams’ 18-footer with 3:52 to play in the game gave the Lady Cougars a 40-30 lead and OCS would get no closer the rest of the way.
McAdams led Creek with 13 points while Dickerson added 10 points. Sutherland and Furr each scored eight points.