With the timely help of Lakeside, the Chewelah Cougars are one step closer to wrapping up a league basketball championship.
While the eighth-ranked Cougars were routing Freeman, 64-34, the Eagles were upsetting Medical Lake, 60-57. The Cardinals went into last weekend’s game in second place with only one league loss. That loss was to Chewelah, which still remains undefeated with a 10-0 league record.
Before Friday night, a possible Medical Lake win at Chewelah on Tuesday would have created a tie at the top of the league standings between the two teams. But, the loss to Lakeside on Friday night left the Cardinals at 9-2, two wins behind Chewelah with only one game remaining in their league season.
What this means for the Cougars is that, for now, they have wrapped up at least a share of the Northeast A League basketball championship.
The Cougars will finish their league schedule at Newport this Friday. They went into this week’s games with an undefeated 10-0 conference record. Chewelah would have to lose both of this week’s games—one to Medical Lake and the other to Newport—in order to open the door for a Cardinal comeback.
So, a solo league basketball championship was not completely assured for Chewelah going into this week’s schedule. Although, the road to the league pennant has been plowed and the Cougars are in the driver’s seat.
The Chewelah boys played two games last week. On Wednesday night, the Cougars steamrolled Northport 73-33 in a non-league make-up game that was rescheduled from earlier in the season because of snow. On Friday, they drove down to Freeman for the 64-34 league win over the Scotties.
Chewelah 73, Northport 33
Wednesday’s game was a mismatch that neither team needed. Chewelah did not need the 40-point win, and Northport did not need the 40-point loss. The Cougars did score a season-high 73 points and had 10 scorers. And, Caleb Wiebe finally showcased his scoring ability with an 18-point performance. Nonetheless, the lack of close competition in such a lopsided game definitely lacked the excitement of Lakeside game the week before.
Chewelah scored 27 points in the first period and held a 41-19 lead at halftime. By the end of the third period, the Cougar lead had stretched to 66-28.
Wiebe’s 18 points earned him top gun honors for the game. He was joined in double-digits by Derek Smith with 15 points and Ben Johnstone with 13.
Wiebe made a shot from nearly every spot on the Cougar end of the court. He scored from three-point range, hit some jumpers from the paint, finished a couple of fast-break layups, and had a put-back off a rebound. He did not score until 1:50 remaining in the first period when he hit a jumper from near the elbow, but once he got started, he rarely missed.
“Caleb went nine-for-10 for the night,” said Coach Rocky Verbeck. “He made five of six two-pointers, both of his three-pointers, and both of his free throws. He also had nine rebounds.
“Caleb has been a steady player for us all season. He’s usually not our leader on offense, but he can be. It’s all the other things Caleb can do on the floor that makes him such a good ballplayer for us.”
Ten Cougars scored against Northport in a team effort that totaled 73 points.
Chewelah 64, Freeman 34
On Friday night, the Cougars drove down to Freeman, where they notched their tenth straight league win with a 64-34 victory over the host Scotties.
“We were ahead 36-12 at halftime,” said Coach Verbeck, “but then we came out a little flat for the third period. Freeman hit four three-pointers early in the period and quickly cut our lead to 15.
“We just weren’t scoring for those first few minutes. But then, we made some stops defensively and we started hitting our shots, and we pulled away for the win.”
Although the final score was not close, the game was still quite physical.
“Derek got tackled trying to make a layup, and Ben got hit in the face,” said Verbeck. “There was a lot of unnecessary pushing and shoving and elbowing going on from the Freeman kids. One of the officials finally called a technical foul on a Freeman player and that slowed it down a little.
“We were already shooting a double-bonus from the free throw line in the third period. But, we made only 10 of 20 free throws for the night. That’s something we’re going to have to work on this week.”
Johnstone was Chewelah’s top gun on Friday with 14 points. The Smith Cousins combined for 25 points. Derek finished the game with 12. Brandon had 13. Wiebe and Deylin Peone each scored nine.
The Cougars travel over the mountain to Newport this Friday night to play the Grizzlies. This will be their final league game of the season and their opportunity to complete the season with a win. Tipoff time is 7:30.
Chewelah 64, Freeman 34
Cougars: 14 – 22 – 11 – 17 = 64
Scotties: 06 – 06 – 16 – 06 = 34
Cougar scoring: Ben Johnstone 14, Brandon Smith 13, Derek Smith 12, Caleb Wiebe 9, Deylin Peone 9, Lars Berger 7.
Chewelah 73, Northport 33
Cougars: 27 – 14 – 25 – 07 = 73
Mustangs: 07 – 07 – 03 – 09 = 33
Cougar scoring: Caleb Wiebe 18, Derek Smith 15, Ben Johnstone 13, Deylin Peone 6, Brandon Smith 5, Tommy Norman 5, Mason Miller 5, Lars Berger 2, Brady Flanagan 2, Cordell Bean 2.
Northeast A League
Chewelah 10 – 0
Medical Lake 9 – 2
Lakeside 7 – 3
Freeman 3 – 7
Riverside 3 – 7
Newport 3 – 8
Kettle Falls 1 – 9
By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: Tommy Norman #24 leaps up to block a basket by Freeman as Caleb Wiebe assists with defense on the ground! Kim Johnstone photo