CHEWELAH BOYS BASKETBALL: Cougars pick up important win to wrap up regular season league play and then win district opener

(GENO LUDWIG/Chewelah Independent)

The Cougars’ Jaron Baldwin slices through the Wilbur-Creston defense during Senior Night basketball at Pein-Lynch Gym last Friday in Chewelah. (Brandon Hansen photo)

Cougars pick up important win to wrap up regular season league play and then win district opener…

Lukas Kubik and Nick Franks teamed up to score 42 points on Monday night when the junior duo spearheaded a 61-37 Chewelah pummeling of the Asotin Panthers on the opening night of the district tournament at West Valley. Kubik scored a game-high 26 points and Franks scored 16 as the two repeatedly penetrated the Panther defense for layups and short jump shots to move the Cougars into the tournament quarterfinals where they will meet the Lind-Ritzville Broncos on Thursday night.

Asotin had no solution to stop Chewelah’s three guards at either end of the court. They could not match the ball-handling, shooting, or pickpocketing skills of Kubik, Franks, and Jaron Baldwin who harassed the Panthers from start to finish. Baldwin scored all eight of his points in the first half of the game, including two three-pointers that loosened up the Asotin defense, and he led the team in assists.

The Chewelah trio scored all five Cougar baskets in the first period to double-up the Panthers at 12-6. Baldwin hit his first three-pointer and Kubik took the ball to the hoop off a feed from Franks to give Chewelah an early 5-0 lead. Baldwin added a putback and Franks drained a long jumper and turned a steal into a layup.

An attacking Cougar defense kept the Panthers at bay throughout the game. Unable to get the ball inside, Asotin threw up a barrage of shots from behind the arc but with few falling through the hoop.

The three unstoppables combined for 33 points through the two middle periods along with Jake George, Nic Shierloh, and Andrew Sweat scoring from the paint and Sam Triplett hitting a shot from just inside the arc. The Cougars held a 31-22 lead at halftime and followed with a 20-point third period to stretch their cushion to 53-34 going into the final eight minutes of play.

Kubik continued his assault on the basket in the fourth period with three driving layups and two free throws, scoring all of Chewelah’s final eight points to seal the victory.

Like with Asotin, Lind-Ritzville is a team that Chewelah will see for the first time on Thursday. The Broncos finished second in the southern division of the league with a 9-3 record, losing twice to top-ranked Liberty and once to Colfax. They are led by senior guard Austin Thompson, who will be a challenging matchup for Kubik, Baldwin and Franks to keep him from driving the lane.

Chewelah 58, Wilbur-Creston 43
Three Cougars scored in double-digits last Friday night as Chewelah ended its regular season schedule with a 58-43 league victory over the visiting Wilbur-Creston Wildcats. After leading by only two points at halftime, the Cougars shifted into a higher gear and left the Wildcats in the rear view mirror to earn the third place seed into the Northeast 2B League District Tournament that began on Monday at West Valley.

This year’s district tournament will feature a dozen teams, six from each end of the league. The first and second place teams—St. Georges, Liberty, Kettle Falls, and Lind-Ritzville—were given a first round bye. The remaining teams were seeded into the first round according to their places in the final league standings at the end of the regular season. The double-elimination event will be played on Feb. 10, 13, 15, 18, 20 and 22, with the four survivors advancing directly into the state tournament in Tacoma. Some games are being played in West Valley’s main gym, while others will be in the adjacent fieldhouse.

Chewelah held only a 28-26 lead over Wilbur-Creston at the intermission on Friday night, and then the Cougars put another 30 points on their side of the scoreclock after the break to notch the win that earned them a third place seed into the tournament. The first half was a cat fight with the lead changing sides several times, but a six-point burst by Chewelah at the beginning of the third period put the Cougars into the lead where they stayed through the remainder of the game.

The five Chewelah seniors started the game and gave the Cougars an early 10-6 lead. Brad Larson’s three-pointer from the left corner was followed by a turn-around jumper by Sam Triplett, a short jumper from the right side by Nic Shierloh, and a shot from behind the arc by Jaron Baldwin. Lukas Kubik then came off the bench and quickly made a driving layup, Baldwin hit a jumper in the paint, and Shierloh drained a rare three-pointer to give the Cougars a 17-13 lead.

The Wildcats caught up in the second period, tying the score at 21-21 and 24-24. An inside basket by Andrew Sweat and a driving layup from Nick Franks kept Chewelah in the lead through the first four minutes. A trey by Baldwin, a layup from Franks, and a jumper from the elbow by Triplett gave the Cougars the go-ahead baskets they needed to keep the lead up until halftime.

Chewelah built an eight-point lead at 36-28 through the first half of the third period on baskets from Baldwin and Kubik, who kept finding a lane to the hoop. A jump-shot from the corner by Jake George, and layups from Shierloh and Baldwin had the Cougars on top 42-37 at the end of the period.

A trio to threes, one by Kubik and two from Franks, increased the Cougar lead to a 12-point spread at 51-39. Buckets by Triplett and Kubik stretched the lead to 58-43 by the final buzzer.

Baldwin’s 15 points led Cougar scorers. Kubik with 14 points and Franks with 10 were also in double-figures. Shierloh had 8, Triplett 6, Larson 3 and George 2.
With the win, Chewelah finished the league season at an even 5-5 record and earned the third place seed from the north into the district tournament.