Lady Cougars fall to Northwood-Lena in playoffs

Elli Dickerson led Creek with 12 points in its quarterfinal loss to Northwood-Lena Thursday. (Photo by Darrell James)

By Malcolm Butler

Playing the No. 2 seed on the road, Cedar Creek head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg knew his Lady Cougars would almost have to play perfect basketball for four quarters if they wanted to earn their second straight trip to the state tournament.

The Lady Cougars came close in the first half before running out of steam and out of time over the final two quarters in a 67-37 loss to Northwood-Lena on Thursday night.

With the loss, the Lady Cougars season concludes with a 22-8 record.

“I am proud of the girls,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We played hard. I think on the road we just made too many mistakes. And they started rolling in the second half. The switch came on for them. I think we felt like we had a chance at halftime, but you could just feel the momentum leave us early in the third quarter.

“I am proud of this team. Twenty-two wins. Quarterfinals. I thought they represented Cedar Creek in an outstanding manner and carried on a high level of play. I think we accomplished seven of the eight goals we set.”

Elli Dickerson scored all 12 of her points in the opening two quarters to help Creek stay within striking distance, trailing just 30-22 at the half. Dickerson netted eight in a first quarter that saw the Lady Cougars trail 19-11 and then four more in the second quarter.

Creek made just 1-of-11 free throws in the opening two quarters or could have been in even better position at the half.

“I think we should have been winning at halftime,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We got off to a great start, and we were taking it to them. We were being aggressive, and we got into the double bonus early. But we missed a lot of free throws. We had a couple of spurts where we turned the ball over … unforced stuff. We were rushing and with no one even on us. So some turnovers hurt us.”

As competitive as the first half was for Cedar Creek, the second half was not. Northwood-Lena outscored the Lady Cougars 23-6 in the the third quarter to extend its lead to 53-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

“We were just tired in the second half,” said Vandenlangenberg. “As active as we were on the boards … we competed well in the first half. We got their best post in foul trouble. They are good. They are really good; physical, athletic, quick.

“But in the second half we didn’t compete on the boards like we did in the first. The officials let both teams play. But we just didn’t fight for some rebounds and some loose balls. It hurt us. Once they got a 15-point lead in the second half, they just flipped the switch. Everything started falling for them, and they were having a blast at our expense.”

Lizzie McAdams added 12 points and Allie Furr chipped in with five in the loss.

Sabrina Fisher led Northwood-Lena with 15 points while Na’Kiyah Allen added 14 points.

Northwood-Lena will play Central Catholic in the state semifinals. Central Catholic defeated OCS 56-44 Thursday night.