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Cougars opener spoiled
LYNDEN — First-game jitters were apparent on both sides of the ball for the Lakewood Cougars in a 70-37 loss to Lynden Christian Dec. 1.
"I didn't anticipate having jitters with such an experienced group," said Cougars coach Matt Hart, whose team boasts 10 seniors. "But (the Lyncs) came out ready to go."
Lynden Christian used a 2-3 zone to limit the Cougars' fast break opportunities and throw them out of rhythm — a strategy that paid dividends in the second quarter in front of a high-energy crowd.
Behind six consecutive points from sophomore Dustin Stanton, the Cougars fought back from an early 12-4 deficit to put the score within a basket at 12-10 in the first quarter, but that did not last long.
In a run that started at the end of the first quarter, the Lyncs took advantage of Cougar miscommunication along the baseline to score 13 straight, making the game 27-11.
"We're still working on some of our rotations," he said. "They took advantage of backdoor cuts kept us guessing."
Meanwhile, Lakewood was held scoreless for almost eight minutes.
"We haven't spent a ton of time working against a zone," Hart said. "We kind of thought that they'd come out with that but we just couldn't get into a rhythm."
The LC tandem of Mike Kortus (six points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals) and Josh Knibbe (game-high 16 points) posed matchup problems all night for the Cougars.
At times, however, Hart's boys showed promise, such as a 10-4 run in the third quarter where aggressive defense by guards Cameron Fry and Shanan Bird yielded scoring opportunities, but Lynden Christian won the turnover battle 21-14.
But turnovers weren't the entire story. The Cougars shot 27.5 percent from the field and made just one three-pointer in 13 attempts, while Lynden Christian made half of its 60 shots.
"Let's just say that we got shots in spots that we usually make," Hart said.
Junior transfer Tre' Haslom led the Cougars with 12 points, but Stanton had an all-around performance of eight points and six rebounds.
"Without a question he was our bright spot tonight," Hart said of Stanton. "He's got an aggressiveness that I wish everybody played with. He crashed the boards and did some things that really helped us tonight."