By Malcolm Butler
Cedar Creek head coach Lance Waldron didn’t mince words Tuesday following the Cougars 67-61 loss to Saline at the Brickhouse.
He just got very defensive, something the Cougars unfortunately didn’t.
“No defense, how about that,” said Waldron. “We got into foul trouble and it got us out of what we wanted to do. They were able to get to the rim. It stole the momentum from us when that happened.
“But that’s not excuse. It put us in a bad situation and it caused our defense to completely fold. We had three things we wanted to fix this summer and defense was at the top of the list. And we just didn’t do it tonight.”
After holding Saline to just 20 points in the first half and leading 25-20 at the break, the Cougars allowed the Bobcats to score 47 points in the third and fourth quarters.
“They scored 67 points. We said going into the game if they score 50 they are going to beat us,” said Waldron. “They scored 67. How many did we score? 61. The difference in the game is our defense is not where it needs to be, and I’m not happy about it.”
Junior Jack Bell got the Cougars off to a solid offensive start, hitting on three 3-pointers in the first half as the Cougars built the 25-20 advantage. Cedar Creek pushed the lead out to as much as 10 at 32-22 to open the third quarter after a Bell elbow jumper and a Jake Doan three-pointer from the corner.
However, that is when the Bobcats began to mount their comeback. With the Cougars leading 35-29 after a Jack Bell free throw, Saline closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to hold a 44-40 advantage heading into he final stanza.
“We have a lot more ball games to get it fixed,” said Waldron referring to the defensive end of the floor.
The fourth quarter saw the Cougars stay within striking range. However, its inability to put multiple stops in a row together prevented Creek from completing the comeback.
After falling behind 62-53 with two minutes to play, Doan hit a baseline jumper and Luke Waldron added a steal and a layup to close the gap to 62-57. The Cougars pulled to within 65-61 on another Doan bucket with just under 5 seconds to play before the Bobcats hit two more free throws to seal the win.
Jack Bell led Creek with 16 points, while Connor Johnson added 15 points. Doan and Waldron each scored 12 for the Cougars.
Gavin Dailey scored a game-high 26 points for Saline while Trent Ledbetter added 18 points. Saline won despite missing 18 free throws in the game.