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Cougs lose home opener
Shooting woes continue for Lakewood
MARYSVILLE — Finding open shots wasn't a problem for Lakewood in a 52-38 non-conference loss to Bellingham Dec. 8.
The Cougars shot 21 percent against the Red Raiders — a percentage that would suggest they weren't taking good shots.
But that was not the case.
"We're this close to being a really good basketball team," said Lakewood coach Matt Hart, who saw his team miss more than a handful of lay-ins and even more open shots. "We get the ball all the way to the hoop, it just hasn't gone in."
Hart summed up the story of Lakewood's first three games — all losses — where they have shot less than 25 percent and are left wondering when their fortune will change around the hoop.
"You can't give up on yourself," Hart said to his team. "If we shoot 40 percent tonight, we win by 15."
Instead, the Cougars were down 10-2 at the end of the first quarter, as Bellingham's lengthy posts Myles Ayers and Ethan McKell held the advantage in the key.
The standout for the Cougars was junior forward Tre' Haslom, who heated up in the second quarter. Often fighting a double-team, Haslom scored eight of his game-high 16 points in the second frame.
"Tre' is developing into quite a scorer for us," Hart said. "But a lot of other teams know that, and if they don't, they will. I think he'll turn into more of a diversion and we've got to get other guys making shots so we can take advantage of all the attention he gets."
Lakewood tried to do just that, as Haslom often found the open man roaming the perimeter, but was 0-10 from downtown. Haslom added team highs of five rebounds and five blocks.
Meanwhile, Bellingham was led by guard Elijah Christie's 13 points and Troutman's eight rebounds and five blocks.
Defensively, Lakewood did all that was asked of them for three quarters, forcing 21 turnovers and holding Bellingham to just 32 points during those three periods.
While it was hard for Hart to put a bright side on a loss, it is still preseason, with the Cougars playing their first Cascade Conference game against Cedarcrest Dec. 18.
"That is just what we were saying in the locker room," Hart said. "Every game is important, but as long as we get this out of the way before league, we'll be fine. I still believe that we will do some special things this year."
Hart praised senior forward Nathan Hesselman, who drew three Bellingham charges, and four in a loss to Nathan Hale Dec. 5.