It had to happen sometime. And, for the Chewelah Cougars, that sometime came on Monday night. After accomplishing an undefeated league season and winning their last 15 ballgames, the Cougars were upset by Medical Lake in the district seeding game for first and second places in the Northeast A League.
biysChewelah trailed by 12 points at the end of the third period, but the Cougars roared back to tie the score at 44-apeice with 3:30 remaining in the game and later at 48-all with 1:15 left to play. In the end, however, Medical Lake hit the winning basket with 33 seconds on the clock to pull off the upset.
Medical Lake came out with the hot hand in the first half. The Cardinals made six three-point shots on their way to a 29-19 lead at the intermission. They were ahead 43-31 at the close of the third period.
Trailing by 12, the Cougars clawed their way back. Derek Smith hit a driving layup to cut the lead to 10. Ben Johnstone’s three-pointer cut the lead to seven at 43-36. Another Johnstone three-ball, followed by a free throw, narrowed the lead to four at 44-40 with 4:28 remaining in the game.
Derek Smith then made two fast-break buckets, one off a steal by Deylin Peone and the other off a pass from Lars Berger. Those four points knotted the score at 44-44 with 3:30 left to play.
A Caleb Wiebe jumper from the free-throw line tied the score again, this time at 46-46, with 3:01 showing on the clock. He then gave Chewelah a 48-46 lead by rebounding his own missed shot and putting it back up for the two-pointer at 1:42.
Nevertheless, Medical Lake made back to back jump-shots and a free throw in the final minute to regain the lead and take home the 51-48 victory.
So, After Chewelah won 12 straight league games, including twin wins over Medical Lake, the Cardinals will enter this weekend’s opening rounds of the bi-district tournament as the league’s number one seed. They will play either Quincy or Brewster on Friday evening.
Because of Monday’s loss—even with their undefeated league season—the Cougars will be seeded as the number two team from this league. They will face either Chelan or Tonasket at West Valley at 3:15 this Friday afternoon.
Medical Lake made a trio of three-point shots in the first period and three more in the second period. The strategy was to penetrate as far as they could into the Chewelah defense and then pass the ball out to the perimeter for the open three-pointer. The tactic worked through the first half.
Chewelah made only two three-pointers before halftime. Peone hit one in the first period. Johnstone made one in the second period. When the two teams met the previous Tuesday, the Cougars were able match the Cardinals shot for shot from behind the arc. This did not happen on Monday.
Still, before the Cardinals started firing for effect, the Cougars had an early 5-0 lead. Derek Smith made a pair of free throws and Brandon Smith completed an old school three-point play with a fast-break layup and a free throw.
Other than Johnstone’s three-pointer, Derek Smith’s three baskets were the only ones Chewelah made from the floor in the second period.
Peone and Johnstone made three-point shots in the third period. Derek Smith took the ball to the hoop for a layup and Brandon Smith followed suit with two layups. Yet, going into the final period, Chewelah was still on the short end of a 43-31 score.
Derek Smith was Chewelah’s leading scorer with 14 points. Brandon Smith and Johnstone each had 10 points.
Chewelah 56, ML 38
Brandon Smith hit four three-pointers in the first half and followed up with three driving layups in the second half when he led the Chewelah Cougars to a 56-38 victory over Medical Lake on Tuesday of last week. Smith finished the night with a game-high 20 points as the Cougars wrapped up a league basketball championship.
Medical Lake made four three-pointers in the opening quarter, but the Cougars responded with five threes in the second quarter to take a 30-20 halftime lead.
Chewelah finished strong, outscoring Medical Lake by a 27-18 margin in the second half to preserve the win.
Chewelah 63, Newport 32
The Cougars completed their league sweep at Newport on Friday night, where they defeated the Grizzlies by a 63-32 score. With that win, Chewelah put the finishing touches on an undefeated league season, going a perfect 12-0 in conference play.
Lars Berger led the Chewelah charge with a 16-point performance. He had nine rebounds, six assists, and five steals. Derek Smith had 14 points, six rebounds, six steals, and five assists. Johnstone and Wiebe both contributed nine points and seven rebounds.
The Cougars ran the floor all night against the Grizzlies, scoring time after time off the fast-break. They also made eight three-point shots—three by Johnstone and one each by Berger, Wiebe, Peone, Brandon Smith, and Brady Flanagan.
West Valley will host the first two nights of the bi-district tournament. The remaining games of the tournament will be played at Omak and Okanogan on Feb 15-16. The top three teams emerging from this tournament will advance to the regional tournament.
ML 51, Chewelah 48
Cougars: 08 – 11 – 12 – 17 = 48
Cards: 11 – 18 – 14 – 08 = 51
Cougar scoring: Derek Smith 14, Brandon Smith 10, Ben Johnstone 10, Lars Berger 6, Caleb Wiebe 5, Deylin Peone 3.
Chewelah 63, Newport 32
Cougars: 16 – 11 – 13 – 23 = 63
Grizzlies: 05 – 05 – 12 – 10 = 32
Cougar scoring: Lars Berger 16, Derek Smith 14, Ben Johnstone 9, Caleb Wiebe 9, Brady Flanagan 5, Brandon Smith 4, Deylin Peone 4, Tommy Norman 2.
Chewelah 57, ML 38
Cougars: 09 – 21 – 14 – 13 = 56
Cards: 12 – 08 – 12 – 06 = 38
Cougar scoring: Brandon Smith 20, Derek Smith 17, Deylin Peone 12, Caleb Wiebe 3, Ben Johnstone 3, Tommy Norman 2.
Northeast A League
Chewelah 12 – 0
Medical Lake 9 – 3
Lakeside 9 – 3
Freeman 4 – 8
Riverside 3 – 9
Newport 3 – 9
Kettle Falls 2 – 10
Last Week’s League Games
Kettle Falls 54, Riverside 46
Chewelah 57, Medical Lake 38
Lakeside 65, Freeman 40
Chewelah 63, Newport 32
Freeman 42, Riverside 35
Lakeside 67, Kettle Falls 48
Medical Lake 45, Lakeside 35
By Geno Ludwig The Independent Staff
In This Photo: The Cougar Boys Varisty basketball team claims the Northeast A League title after beating Medical Lake Tuesday night, Jan. 29, and end up with a perfect undefeated league season! Back row (l-r) Coach Verbeck, Cordell Bean, Lars Berger, Caleb Wiebe, Braeton Dainty-Flannagan, Derek Smith, Mason Miller, Ben Johnstone. Front (l-r) Student Manager Sam Cobb, Tommy Norman, Deylin Peone, Brandon Smith, and student Manager Josh Olson. Kim Johnstone photo