Lady Cougs continue their growing pains

John Michaels
IVN Contributing Writer

The Illinois Valley High School girls basketball team traveled for a pair of Valley Coast Conference games and hosted a single league game in basketball last week, posting a 0-3 record over the week. The Lady Cougars sit at 2-14 for the year right now with a 1-7 VCC mark.
Once again the Lady Cougars struggled on offense which significantly contributed to a tough week for Illinois Valley. The Cougars failed to put up double digits in a single quarter all week. I.V. may have hit its low point when they managed to score just six points all game in a 56-6 loss at Brandon Friday.
Illinois Valley traveled to Oakland Tuesday and dropped a 35-18 decision to the Oakers. The high point of the week may have come in this game, as the Cougars actually led 6-4 after the first quarter. The Oakers outscored the Cougs 12-5 in the second stanza to grab a 16-11 halftime lead.
The Oakers limited I.V. to just a single free throw that Evalynn Guzman dropped in the third frame leading 23-12 going into the final period. Oakland doubled up the Lady Cougars in that final period to grab the VCC victory.
Guzman was the point leader with 12 points. Jessame Pope scored the other six. The pair of juniors have done the majority of the scoring for I.V. this year, and this game was no exception.
On Friday the Lady Cougars traveled to Bandon and took on one of the best teams at their level in the state. The Lady Tigers, who are undefeated in the VCC and are the second-ranked 2A team by OSAA, had little trouble with I.V. on the way to the previously mentioned 56-6 victory. Bandon, who had defeated I.V. 78-13 during the winter break, led 13-3 after the initial period. However, the Cougars would be held to a single free throw in the second quarter and a single field goal in the third by the unrelenting Tiger defense.
Pope scored four points on two field goals and Guzman got the other two points on free throws for the Lady Cougars.
On Saturday, Illinois Valley hosted Waldport and dropped a 51-15 league tilt to the Irish.
Once again the Cougars had reason for optimism after the first quarter, trailing just 5-3 after one period. A Guzman free throw and a Pope lay-in gave I.V. an early 3-0 lead. But Waldport got a “basket and one” to tie it with 5:25 left in the quarter. Another basket at the 4:09 mark gave the visitors a lead they would not relinquish.
The Cougars had their best offensive quarter of the week in the second, managing eight points, but Waldport scored 14 to take a 19-11 lead heading into the break.
Any hopes I.V. had for a comeback disappeared quickly in the third quarter. The Irish came out of the intermission and scored 21 unanswered points to put the game away. Waldport’s senior wing Airyanna Paden scored 12 points on her own in just over a minute and a half between the 7:00 mark and 5:29. By the time Guzman scored with 1:17 left in the quarter, the Irish had extended the lead to 44-13 and the game was over for all practical purposes. Paden finished with 23 points to outscore the Cougars all by herself.
Pope scored 7 points to lead Illinois Valley. Guzman added six. For the first time all week, someone other than Pope or Guzman scored, as freshman Asia Davis got credit for a basket.
The Cougars host a pair of Valley Coast Conference games before traveling for a third game. The Cougars hosted Lowell Jan. 22 in a game rescheduled due to the ice storm that hit the Willamette Valley last weekend. On Tuesday, Gold Beach came to Cave Junction for a rematch of the Cougar’s lone VCC victory. I.V. is traveling Thursday for a game at Reedsport.