Illinois Valley High School basketball teams faced off against the Waldport Irish Jan. 21. Although the varsity girls team suffered a hefty loss, both the junior varsity and varsity boys teams sent Waldport packing.
Things were looking dire for the JV boys during the first half of their game, with the second quarter ending 30-18 in favor of the opposition. During halftime, the team was able to rally and worked during the third quarter to even the score. By the time the fourth quarter began, the Cougars were catching up 35-30, though Waldport still maintained a slight lead. Freshman players Keegan Russell and Jesse Connell worked together to make several shots in the last five minutes, and the home team blasted ahead of their opponents with the final score sitting 54-42 in favor of the Cougars.
JV assistant coach Ryan Lathen noted that “the boys stepped up the intensity in the second half and it paid off,” adding that he was proud of them for being able to bounce back so quickly.
Despite the win, the girls varsity team wasn’t so lucky. They played hard, doing their best to narrow the gap between scores bit by bit. By halftime, Waldport was in the lead by six points 19-13. While the Lady Cougars’ teamwork was impeccable, their defenses were easily overcome by the strength of their opposition. The last half of the game was aggressively played by both sides, but in the end the Waldport girls left the Cougars in the dust with a score of 46-20.
Slam dunk for boys varsity against the Irish
The Illinois Valley High School boys varsity game displayed the Cougars’ confidence at their home game Jan. 21. They strode out onto the court against the Waldport Irish in the first quarter with an instantaneous two-point shot by Daniel Polk. This set the tone for the game, as the Cougars ended the first quarter with a stunning lead of 20-6. The second quarter continued to astound the crowd, with I.V. junior Daniel Polk scoring three 3-point shots during the round. By halftime, the Cougars were leading 41-18.
During the last half of the game, the Irish tried in vain to regain the upper hand, only barely managing to keep the score from doubling. Despite several players being exchanged for the final round from Waldport, the Cougars continued to outmaneuver their opponents. When the final buzzer sounded, the score was an astonishing 67-43, a tremendous victory for the Cougars.
Coach Tony Hess remarked afterwards that he was “very proud” of the boys, noting that they had experimented with a lot of different defenses over the course of the game and had managed to work in team members who didn’t normally get to play. This seems to have been a wise decision, and hopefully one that bodes well for their season going forward.