By Malcolm Butler
Cedar Creek head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg used multiple timeouts in the first quarter of Tuesday night’s District 2-1A contest against River Oaks.
He was trying to wake up his Lady Cougars.
After sleep-walking through the opening eight minutes, the Lady Cougars eventually built a 10-point halftime lead and then dominated the second half in a 65-26 victory at the Brickhouse.
The win extended Creek’s winning streak to nine games.
“I told them at halftime that what this taught me is if we play with our hands down and we are not active on defense, then we are an average team,” said Vandenlangenberg. “When we are playing together as five — not just one or two being active but all five — then we are a really good team.
“We’ve been on a good run. I guess it’s shame on me for thinking we were going to be perfect the entire time. Here is the good thing, we did wake up and we did what we had to do to get the win. It’s a district win.”
Creek (17-4, 4-0) turned the ball over time after time in the opening eight minutes, thus the Lady Cougars held a mere 10-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“I thought we had girls playing hard, but we needed all five playing hard at the same time,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We just didn’t seem to be cohesive as a team in the first half.”
Creek began to pick things up in the second quarter, extending its advantage to 26-16 at the half. Allie Furr scored 16 of her game-high 22 points in the opening two quarters, hitting four field goals and 8-of-11 free throws before the half. Lizzie McAdams added two of her four three-pointers in the second quarter.
After River Oaks (10-11, 2-2) scored the first two buckets of the third quarter to close the deficit to 26-20, the Lady Cougars put it into another gear, outscoring the Mustangs 39-6 the rest of the game.
“I thought in the second half we got some energy off the bench from some girls,” said Vandenlangenberrg. “I thought Leah (Sutherland) and Mallory (Smith) provided a spark for us. Elli (Dickerson) picked her game up.
“Lizzie (McAdams) hit those four three’s which was good to see. And then Allie does her thing every night. She is our leader; hour engine that makes us go. She made some really nice assists tonight; some nice no look passes.”
Creek instituted a full-court press for the majority of the second half. And although the Lady Cougars didn’t force as many turnovers as they usually do with the press, it seemed to help them get going on both ends of the court.
“We gave up some lanes to the basket in the first half,” said Vandenlangenberg. “That’s something we haven’t been allowing this year. But they forced the issue and they called our bluff. They said are you really going to get down and play defense? In the first half we were bluffing. We were in our defensive spot but we didn’t mean it. In the second half we turned it up.
“We couldn’t turn them over with our press as much as we would have liked. We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball. But I didn’t think we were as active as we can be. I think it was a night where we were just glad to get out of her with a win.”
Olivia Underwood hit a three-pointer and then McAdams followed with a trifecta to push the Creek lead to 38-22 with 3:36 to play in the third quarter. A Smith jumper following an offensive rebound made it 41-25 with 2:00 to play in the stanza. Another McAdams three-pointer rounded out the scoring in the period as Creek led 48-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Creek held River Oaks to a single point while continuing their scoring. Sutherland hit a three-pointer at the 4:00 mark to make the lead 61-26 and then Ainsley Riley stepped in front of a pass and raced the length of the floor for a layup to make it 63-26.
Baylee Mabou finished the scoring for Creek on a layup off a nice assist by Caroline James with a minute to play.
Furr led Creek with 22 points, 9 steals, 8 assists and 6 rebounds while McAdams added 12 points and nine boards. Dickerson added 10 points and Sutherland scored eight.
Creek hosts Lincoln Prep Friday.
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