(GENO LUDWIG/Chewelah Independent)
Baldwin leads Chewelah in final two district games…
The Chewelah Cougars used five three-pointers in the second half to distance themselves from Davenport on Thursday night on the way to a 49-33 district tournament victory. With the score tied at 26 apiece midway through the third period, the Cougar trio of Jaron Baldwin, Carl Oman and Nick Franks drained shots from behind the arc to give Chewelah a 34-26 lead by the end of the period. Franks and Baldwin both hit again from long range in the final period and the Cougars notched a 16-point win.
It was another classic Cougar second-half finish like those recent rallies that conquered Northwest Christian, Reardan, and Kettle Falls. Those last two tournament triumphs gave Chewelah a winning season as they went into Friday’s game against Colfax with a 13-11 record. They have won six of their last seven games.
“The Northwest Christian game turned our season around,” said Cougar ballhawk Jaron Baldwin. “I think we came out and just played our game that night and kinda shocked everybody, and we’ve just kept that momentum going. In the second half of the season, we have just been playing very well as a team, moving the ball to find open shots, and playing very good defense.”
The Cougars led 11-10 at the end of the first period and 23-20 at halftime, but Davenport canned the first two buckets of the third period and took a 24-23 lead. The Gorillas were using their height effectively inside to get some second shots at the hoop, but the Cougars were turning up the intensity at both ends of the floor.
“Our offense is great,” Baldwin continued. “We’ve got players getting better all-around and getting more comfortable finding ways to score, which is something we struggled with earlier in the season.”
Baldwin lit Chewelah’s fuse and scored 12 of his 17 points after the intermission. His second three-pointer of the game returned the lead to the Chewelah scoreboard at 26-24, but a Gorilla put-back tied the score at 26-all. Baldwin then hit a driving jumper, followed by back-to-back treys from Oman and Franks to give the Cougars a 34-26 lead at the conclusion of the third period.
Davenport scored first in the final period to cut the Chewelah lead to 34-28, but the Cougars answered by scoring the next 12 points. Oman opened the barrage with a jumper and Franks made his second three to widen the Chewelah lead to 39-28. Baldwin then completed his game-high 17-point performance with a coast-to-coast layup, his third three-pointer of the night, and a pair of free throws that spread the Cougar lead to 46-28 with 4:15 to play. Franks took the ball to the glass and Jake George made a free throw down the final stretch to finalize the 49-33 win.
The Cougars held the lead through most of the first half, but not by more than four points as Davenport hit shots under the cylinder and from the free throw line to remain in their shadow. Chewelah built an 11-7 lead on a driving layup and a put-back from Franks, a short jumper by George, an inside buck from Nolan Hansen off a pass from John Larson, and Oman’s first three-pointer. The Gorillas replied with a basket and a free throw near the end of the period to close the gap to 11-10. Davenport tied the score twice in the second period at 18-18 and at 20-20, but Chewelah hit the go-ahead bucket in both instances. Oman’s fast-break layup gave the Cougars a 20-18 lead, and an inside jumper by George put Chewelah on top 22-20. Late in the period, the Cougars started to turn up the heat as Oman, Baldwin, and Franks used their quickness to take the ball to the glass past the taller Gorillas. Meanwhile, on the outside, Baldwin hit his first of three three-pointers. Larson’s free throw gave Chewelah its 23-20 lead at the break.
The Cougars had three double-figure scorers. Besides Baldwin’s game-high 17 points, Franks finished with 14 and Oman had 10.
Unfortunately, Thursday’s win was Chewelah’s last. The Cougars were clobbered 63-33 by Colfax on Friday to bring their season to a close. Although their story did not have a happy ending, there were several exciting chapters, especially the ones about the wins over Northwest Christian, Reardan and Kettle Falls. They are chapters they will recall from time to time with a big smile on their faces, somewhat like “The Little Engine That Could.” But there are games like the one last Friday night that they will want to bury deep in their memory.
It is so unnerving when a team plays as hard as Chewelah did on Friday and gets pounded by 30 points by a team that shot with laser-guided precision. The Cougars did so many things right. The ball just stubbornly refused to fall through the hoop at their end of the floor. Most were wide open shots. Shots that should have scored. But the ball would not cooperate. Either that or opposing teams are using a newly-developed top-secret technology that alters the flight pattern of the orb. Nah! The Bulldogs were simply better shooters that night.
Two driving layups by Franks were the only shots that put points on the scoreboard for Chewelah in the first four minutes. In between those two shots, Colfax went on a nine-point run to lead 9-4. John Larson took the ball to the hoop for a layup off the glass and Jaron Baldwin hit a long jumper from the right side in the next four minutes, but Colfax held a 19-9 lead at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs scored the first dozen points of the second period. Larson ended the run with his second driving layup of the game and Baldwin went to the line to make both free throws. The Cougars trailed 40-12 at halftime.
Colfax posted the first 14 points of the third period, including three consecutive three-pointers, to spread the Bulldog lead to 54-12. Larson’s jumper from the elbow and free throws from Baldwin and Carl Oman interrupted the run. Oman drained a jumpshot from the lane at the end of the period, but the Cougars fell further behind by a 58-19 margin. Chewelah scored more points in the final period than in the entire first half. Three layups by Baldwin, a layup off a steal by Nolan Hansen, a three-pointer from Oman and an inside bucket by Sammy Triplett provided a 14-point fourth period for the Cougars.
Baldwin was Chewelah’s lone double-digit scorer with 12 points. Larson and Oman each had six points, Franks had four, Hansen had three, and Triplett scored two.
The Cougars finished with a winning season. They were 13-12 overall. It was the final game of their high school basketball careers for Oman, Larson, and Hansen.
CHEWELAH 49, DAVENPORT 33
Davenport 10 10 6 7 = 33
Chewelah 11 12 11 15 = 49
Cougar scoring: Jaron Baldwin 17, Nick Franks 14, Jake George 4, Nolan Hansen 2, Johnny Larson 1, Carl Oman 10
COLFAX 63, CHEWELAH 33
Chewelah: 8 4 7 14=33
Colfax: 19 21 18 5=63
Cougar scoring: Jaron Baldwin 12, Nick Franks 4, Nolan Hansen 3, Johnny Larson 6, Carl Oman 6, Sam Triplett 2