Short-handed Lions girls’ basketball battles, comes up short in holiday tournament

Following a successful road trip at the Seaside Classic, where the Cottage Grove Lions girls’ basketball team went 2-1, the team returned home for the Cottage Grove Holiday Tournament hoping to build upon their growth.

“At Seaside, we just clicked. We played really good team basketball, hitting free throws, pressuring people on defense, creating turnovers, capitalizing,” said Lions head coach Pete LeMay. “Winning two out of three games and getting fourth place — I think — meant a lot to the girls.”  

However, Cottage Grove’s depth would be challenged due to several key players being out pf the line-up short term for various reasons. LeMay brought up several junior varsity players to help in the tournament matchup. 

To open up the tournament, the Lions faced off against the South Umpqua Lancers, a 3A school which came into the game with a 1-6 record. The Lancers got off to a quick start, building a 10-1 lead before the Lions were finally able to convert a field goal attempt. Cottage Grove senior Logan Zolezzi was able to hit two free throws towards the end of the first period but, with just one shot attempt in the quarter, Cottage Grove trailed 15-5 going into the second period. 

The Lions played excellent defense in the next quarter, forcing turnovers and difficult shots by the Lancers. After a running floater from freshman Mariah Bailey, the Lions were able to cut into the South Umpqua lead, making the score 11-16. But the Lancers regrouped in a big way, going on an 11-2 run to close out the second quarter to lead 27-13 at the half. 

In the third quarter the Lancers didn’t let up, with Lions again struggling offensively and scoring just 5 points in the period — along with two field goals coming from Bailey and junior Summer LeBow. Cottage Grove trailed 38-18 to end of the third quarter. However, the Lions would not go down without taking a swing.

Bailey opened the fourth quarter with a running jumper, then scored again on the Lions next two posessions — cutting the South Umpqua lead to 38-24. While Cottage Grove would have its most productive quarter of the game in the fourth period, outscoring the Lancers 18-11, the disparity was too large to overcome for the short-handed Lions, who eventually fell to South Umpqua, 52-36. 

“They’ll be competitive till the buzzer, I think that’s what we are about. We are working on finding our identity as a team. The effort and the hustle, everything we do, we are doing in 100 percent,” LeMay said. “I’m happy with that. There is only upside, right? We’ll keep battling, we’ll keep working, but I’m proud of their effort, always,”  

Bailey led all scores for Cottage Grove with 10 points, 6 of them coming in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Junior Carli DeGarlais added 8 points for Cottage Grove while LeBow scored 7. 

The following day of the Holiday Tournament, Cottage Grove faced off against the Hidden Valley Mustangs, who had gotten off to a 3-2 start to their season but then dropped their next four games going into their matchup with the Lions. 

Cottage Grove kept it close in the opening period, trailing 6-9 going into the second quarter. But then the Mustangs built a 20-10 lead by the half. While the Lions and Mustangs remained balanced in the second half, Cottage Grove was not able to make a push to even the score, with Hidden Valley winning the game 47-32. 

Zolezzi and Bailey led the Lions with 9 points each. Stayton High School, which is now 5-1 to start their season, took first place in the tournament after victories against Hidden Valley and South Umpqua.

The loss for Cottage Grove drops the Lady Lions to 3-6 overall.

They played in the SCTC Holiday Classic at Stayton High School on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week (after press deadlines). 

Elsewhere, the Creswell Bulldogs girls’ basketball team fell to Coquille High School, 38-56, last Wednesday [Dec. 21]. It was only the Bulldogs second loss of the season, dropping their record to 6-2.

Creswell faced off against Marist on Wednesday night of this week (after press deadlines).

The North Douglas Warriors girls’ basketball team (5-2) played in the Bandon Dunes Tournament on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week (after press deadlines).