Cougars are on the brink of another playoff run

John Michaels
IVN Contributing Writer

The Illinois Valley High School boys basketball team had a great week picking up a trio of Valley Coast Conference wins earlier and solidifying their hold on the fourth and final state play-off spot for the conference. The Cougars are now 16-5 on the year, with a 10-4 mark in the conference. They currently are ranked #12 in 2A by the OSAA. The Cougars trail third place Lowell by one game, but hold the tie-breaker over the Devils by way of their victory over Lowell in January. I.V. is ahead of fifth place Gold Beach by two games with two games to play.

On Monday, I.V. traveled to Waldport and dispatched the Irish 52-46. The Cougars overcame a halftime deficit with a dominant second half to claim the win.
Although I.V. jumped out to 16-10 lead one quarter, the Irish held Illinois Valley to just six points in the second quarter and held a 28-22 lead at the intermission. The Cougars came out after halftime and won the third quarter 15-10 to cut the Waldport lead to one, 38-37. I.V. dominated the final quarter, holding the Irish to eight points in the frame, while again scoring 15 to claim the 52-46 win.
Senior Daniel Polk was once again the Cougars’ primary offensive weapon. Polk tallied 17 points in the win. But Polk once again got considerable assistance from his teammates in this important win. Zack Dugas scored 13 points, Stevann Terry had 10 and Brendyn Bruner chipped in nine points Other Cougars that made it into the scoring column included Jesse Connell with two and Trenton Davis closed out I.V.’s scoring with one.
On Friday, I.V. hosted Toledo and doubled up the Boomers, 82-41. The Cougars dominated the first three quarters before getting their bench players a lot of playing time in the final quarter. I.V. opened the game with a 24-10 first period and nearly duplicated that effort in the second frame, outpacing the Boomers 22-8 and grabbed a 46-18 advantage at the break.
After the half, I.V. played one of its best quarters of the season, outscoring Toledo 24-9 to extend its lead to 70-27 heading into the final eight minutes. The Boomers used I.V.’s liberal use of substitutes to win the final quarter by a 14-12 count,
Polk scored 20 points in just three quarters of play to lead the Cougars. But 11 different players scored for I.V. Dugas added 14, while Terry tallied 10. Bruner chipped in eight, Davis, Connell and Connor Talty registered six points apiece. Kegan Russell and Brantly Arroyo had four each. Tanner Brazil and Micheal Fowler also got a field goal to close out the I.V. scoring.
The Cougars hosted Reedsport on Saturday. I.V. was looking to avenge a 67-63 loss to the Brave from the previous week. Quick starts to the beginnings of both halves aided I.V. as it chalked up a 91-60 win.

I.V. continued its hot streak from the week, with six players sharing the scoring duties while leaping out to a 27-14 lead after one period. Although the Brave reversed the fortunes to a certain extent in the second stanza, the Cougars outscored Reedsport held a 41–37 advantage at the intermission.

I.V. once again made some halftime adjustments and blitzed the Brave 26-7 after the break as eight Cougars got into the act in the period. I.V. extended its lead 67-44 going into the last frame. Perhaps recalling that Reedsport dominated the final frame in stealing the earlier victory, I.V. maintained its aggressiveness on both sides of the ball to outpace the Brave 24-16 during the final eight minutes to claim its vengeance.

Dugas ended Polk’s streak of high scoring honors for the I.V. Dugas finished with 20 points, edging Polk’s 18. Terry with 15, Connell with 14 and Bruner with 11 made it five Cougars to hit double figures. Talty added five, Fowler hit a shot from distance the final quarter to get three, and both Davis and Russell had single field goals. Dillon Shirley closed out the scoring with a solitary free throw.

The Cougars conclude their regular season with a pair of Valley Coast Conference games this week. I.V. hosts the undefeated and fourth ranked Oakland Oakers on Tuesday. On Thursday, play their VCC finale when they travel to Halsey to take on the No. 21 Central Linn Cobras.