John Michaels IVN Contributing Writer
The Illinois Valley High School boys basketball team suffered a disappointing loss at end the week, but picked up two Valley Coast Conference wins earlier and went 2-1 last week. The Cougars are now 13-5 on the year, with a 7-4 mark in the conference. They currently are ranked #12 in 2A by the OSAA.
On Tuesday, Illinois Valley hosted Gold Beach and easily avenged a loss earlier this season to the Panthers. The Cougars lost the earlier contest at Gold Beach largely due to a large difference in free throws shot. This time I.V. won every quarter and cruised to an easy 76-61 victory.
I.V. jumped out to 20-17 lead one quarter with five different Cougars scoring in the opener. I.V. extended that lead winning the second quarter 17-10 and took a commanding 37-27 lead into the intermission.
The second half was no different as the home team just kept extending its lead winning the third quarter by four, 21-17 and edging the Panthers 18-17 in the final stanza to claim their sweet revenge.
Senior Daniel Polk was the Cougars’ primary offensive threat as usual. Polk, who remains the third leading in scorer in the state at all levels, tallied 27 points in the win. But Polk got significant contributions from his teammates in this important win. Brendyn Bruner had a great game with 22 points and some great defense. When Gold Beach focused on Polk and Bruner, Zack Dugas made them pay to the tune of 15 points. Other Cougars that made it into the scoring column included Steven Terry with five, Michael Fowler with three, Connor Talty and Keagan Russell who had two points apiece.
One night earlier on Monday, I.V. hosted Lowell in a game that was rescheduled due to the ice storm that hit the Willamette Valley earlier this month. It was an important Valley Coast Conference game as four VCC teams will make the state playoffs and the Cougars find themselves battling with both Lowell and Gold Beach the two remaining spots behind Oakland and East Linn Christian. In a mild upset and a huge win for the locals, I.V. edged the Devils 77-73.
The game started slowly for I.V. as ninth-ranked Lowell doubled up the Cougars and grabbed a 18-9 lead after one period. The second stanza was much better as Polk tallied eight points, Brunner hit a pair of 3-pointers and six different Cougars scored as I.V. outscored the Devils 22-18 in the quarter to cut the lead to 36-31 going into the break.
The pace picked up in the third, but the Lowell showed why it is deserving of a No. 9 ranking, outpacing I.V. 25-18 in the quarter to take a commanding 61-49 lead going into the final eight minutes. Cougar coach Tony Hess used the break between the third and fourth quarters to make some adjustments, both offensively and defensively and IV looked like a different team in the final eight minutes.
Polk caught fire scoring 17 points in the quarter. The Cougar defense, which had been surrendering over a basket a minute earlier in the game, suddenly started denying good shots and grabbing rebounds. I.V. just outran the Devils 29-12 in the final period to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Polk was again the leading scorer for the Cougars pouring in a game high 36 points on the night. Bruner hit clutch shots and made sure that Lowell could not overplay Polk, tossing in 18 points. Dugas hit double figures with 10 points and Trenton Davis played great defense in addition to netting six points. Russell with five points and Terry with two closed out the scoring for I.V.
The Cougars traveled to Reedsport Thursday. As is typical in sports, after two emotional and important wins early in the week, I.V. suffered a letdown and dropped a 67-63 decision to the Braves.
I.V. continued its hot streak jumping out to a 21-14 lead after one period. Although the pace slowed in the second stanza, The Cougars outscored Reedsport 12-7 in the quarter to grab lead 33-21 at the intermission.
Reedsport made a few halftime adjustments and took advantage of both Polk and Dugas getting into foul trouble. The Braves had a 24-16 edge in the third, cutting the deficit to 49-45 going into the last frame.
Dugas fouled out and Polk, saddled with four fouls could not be quite as aggressive on either offense or defense in the final quarter. Reedsport scored 22 points in the fourth, while holding I.V. to 14 and the Brave escaped with a tight 67-63 win.
Polk continues to make his case for Player of the Year honors, with 30 points in the loss. Dugas tallied 10 before fouling out, and Brunner chipped in 10 as well. Russell added four and Davis got three. Terry, Fowler and Talty all got a single bucket to finish off the I.V.’s scoring.
The Cougars currently sit in fourth place in the Valley Coast Conference. Illinois Valley is a game behind Lowell (8-3) for third place and sits a half game ahead of Gold Beach (7-5) which currently resides in fifth. Undefeated Oakland sits in first place at 12-0, just ahead of East Linn Christian (10-1). Lowell has five games remaining, including one with Oakland. Gold Beach has four games remaining, including one each with Oakland and East Linn Christian.