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Cowboys end season in disappointing fashion
After hot start injuries and illness hamper team
March 11, 2013
When the season started, the Crook County Cowboys were loaded with talented and experienced basketball players.
The Cowboys roared out to their best start in years, boasting a 5-1 record.
With 10 seniors on the roster the team looked poised to make a serious playoff run.
Then sometime in late December the wheels fell off.
“From the last game before Christmas where things injury-wise started, at no time were we 100 percent healthy,” said head coach Jeff Lowenbach.
Over the course of the season, the team lost seniors Marcus Greaves, Michael Egbert, and Dillon Dean to season ending injuries.
Fellow seniors Dillon Dees, and Chance Sutfin also missed games because of injuries, while several other players missed games because of illness or other problems.
After defeating La Pine in early January the team was still 6-4. However, the Cowboys won just one more game, finishing the season with a 7-17 record.
The Cowboys failed to defeat a single 5A?school in the Intermountain Hybrid League, going 0-9 against the larger schools.
“The hybrid league is not an ideal situation for us, and this particular year, I think it ended up hurting us,” Lowenbach said. “If we are in a 4A?league, I think that we are obviously more competitive and I think that it ends up giving us more opportunities towards the end. Now with that being said, we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that we had.”
Still the team was just one shot away from making it to post-season play.
The Cowboys split their first two Special District I games with the Ridgeview Ravens and had several chances to win the third and deciding game. Tied late in regulation the Cowboys had a good shot at the buzzer, but the ball bounced off the rim and the game went into overtime.
Ridgeview went on to win the contest, earning a play-in game with Henley. The Ravens went on to knock off Henley, earning a playoff spot where they fell in the first round to eventual runnerup Cascade in a highly competitive contest.
“We definitely could have been competitive,” Lowenbach said. “The second I saw Ridgeview’s draw I was kicking myself because I knew that we could have beaten Henley. I talked to Nathan Covill (Ridgeview’s head coach) at the all-league meeting and he said ‘you guys matched up against them better than we did.’ We knew that all we were trying to do was get into the play-in round and then that’s a whole new season and our record against the 5A schools doesn’t make any difference.”
Although the team came up short, there were still some positives come out of the season.
The two Cowboy seniors who were healthy the entire season both earned all-league recognition.
Preston Washechek and Troy Benton, who played nearly every minute of most games, both were named honorable mention in the Intermountain Hybrid League.
“With all the injuries and things that were going on they were the one constant we had,” Lowenbach said. “They played lots and lots of minutes and so those guys definitely deserve recognition.”
The other positive that came out of the season was the play of the team’s undergraduates.
The JV?squad finished with a winning record, while several of those players were able to step up to the varsity level and gain valuable experience.
“That’s the best JV record that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Lowenbach said. “So we have some kids coming up that can do some things. But we are going to be young and we still have to compete in the hybrid league and against a Ridgeview team that doesn’t lose anybody so it’s going to be tough.”