By Malcolm Butler
Sometimes being a little selfish is okay.
When Cedar Creek travels to Ouachita Christian tonight for a 6 p.m. tip-off, the Lady Cougars aren’t interested in sharing anything.
Especially the District 2-1A title.
A win by Creek (18-4, 5-0) would all but solidify the outright district title with the Lady Cougars already holding a one-game lead over OCS (20-4, 3-1) by virtue of its 47-35 win over the Lady Eagles on Jan. 13 at the Brickhouse.
A loss by the Cougars creates a two-way tie with two games remaining for Creek and three games remaining for OCS. The Lady Eagles have already defeated the remaining three teams by 18, 18 and 36 points while the Lady Cougars have already defeated the remaining two teams on its schedule by 29 and 39 points.
Thus, for all intents and purpose, tonight’s match-up will determine whether Creek has to put co- in front of district champs. It’s not something the Lady Cougars want to think about.
“If we lose it is not the end of the world,” said senior guard Allie Furr. “We are still set up nicely for the playoffs. Coach Van says we have nothing to lose.”
But when asked if the Lady Cougars wanted to share the crown, Furr was quick with her reply.
“No sir,” she said. “We want to win. And we want to win bad.”
Although Creek snapped an almost four-year losing streak against OCS three weeks ago, Cougars head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg knows winning on the road against the Lady Eagles won’t be easy.
“I think we are going to have to handle some adversity,” he said. “At some point in the game we aren’t going to get a call or two. We are going to miss some shots. We are going to hit a tough spell, but can we overcome that? Can we go into their place and have a moment or two where things don’t go our way but yet we respond the right way?”
Coach Van’s players agree.
“I think we have to keep a good mindset, especially being at their place,” said senior Lillian Soto. “Playing there is always a very different atmosphere. I think if we keep our head in the game … it will be okay.”
“We just have to go in with the right mindset,” said senior Lizzie McAdams, who scored 13 points in the first win over OCS. “We have to keep our heads screwed on right and just play our game like we know how to. It will be a big atmosphere. We are just going to have to communicate with each other and play as a team.”
“We just have to give it our all and know that we can beat them,” said Furr. “We just have to be on our game. And even if we aren’t, we just have to stay within ourselves. Not get too high. Not get too low. We just have to play like we know how to play.”
Creek will put a 10-game winning streak on the line. The Lady Cougars haven’t lost since falling 56-36 at Quitman on Dec. 16, the second of back-to-back losses.
Vandenlangenberg points to those two losses as the turning point in the season for the Lady Cougars.
“Right before Christmas we had lost two games in a row against two good teams. We got beat bad,” he said. “We were facing a little bit of adversity; some doubt. I wondered if we could regroup. I think the break hit us at a good time. We came back and have won 10 games in a row and are playing our best basketball right now.
“It’s not surprising. I knew the girls could do it, but when you go through those moments where things aren’t going right and you depend on that leadership and you depend on the girls believing in what you are saying … like can we really do this? And they bought in. It’s a real tribute to the type of girls we have.”
The Lady Cougars will be vying for their first outright district title since 2018-19 when Anna Larr Roberson led the program to the league crown.
In order to snap that streak, the Lady Cougars must handle the adversity tonight in a big-game situation.
“The atmosphere is always so big,” said Furr. “There is always a big crowd because it is such a big game. With the district championship on the line, we can’t let the crowd get under our skin.”
The Cedar Creek boys will look to sweep its season series against OCS, tipping off 10 minutes after the completion of the girls game.
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