The Show Low Cougars served notice on their 3A East opponents as they opened the season with four victories against no losses in their first skirmishes of the season.
The much-improved Cougars showed good balance on the court displaying a tenacious defense and a quick strike offense. The Cougars held opponents to just 31.3 points per game while averaging 65.7 themselves.
The week started with a 72-45 win against defending Arizona 3A state champion Page. The first road game for the Cougars was at St. Johns and resulted in a 51-14 victory followed by a 69-40 home victory against Round Valley.
Senior Cougar Cooke led the Cougars in scoring with an average of 18.5 points per game. Sophomore Preston Power scored in double figures in two of the four games and is averaging 11.0 points per game.
Show Low 72, Page 45
Coach Troy Cooke wanted a strong start to the week as defending state champion Page came to town for a game played in Snowflake due to the Show Low gym being unavailable until mid-January. Coach Cooke was a little worried about how his Cougars would match up and the start of the game couldn’t have helped much as the Cougars turned the ball over and Page scored the first basket in the first minute.
Worry ceased a bit as the Cougars then ran off 13 straight points over the next three minutes before Page could score again. Scoring was even throughout the rest of the quarter as Show Low took a 22-11 lead going into the second quarter. The second quarter was much like a good boxing match with the teams trading baskets.
Page pulled within five points at 28-23 with three minutes left in the half, mainly on the strength of free throws. Show Low’s run of eight points, capped by a long 3-pointer by Riane De La Cruz, put the halftime score at 36-23. Cougar Cooke scored 13 points to lead Show Low’s first-half effort.
The second half went much the same as the first as the Cougars kept constant pressure on the Sand Devils. The lead grew to 18 by the end of the third quarter (53-35) and ended at 27 for the final score of 72-45.
Cougar Cooke scored 22 points to go along with five assists to lead the Cougars. Andre Henderson had the team’s first double-double for the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Power came off the bench to score 14 points and gather in eight rebounds. De La Cruz with seven assists, seven points and five rebounds directed the Cougars overall attack to high precision.
Show Low 51, St. Johns 14
The Cougars turned an early close game into a rout with 13 unanswered points over a nine-minute stretch in the first half to lead to the victory. The Cougars were up 10-6 when the run started and the Redskins didn’t answer until less than two minutes remained in the first half. That free throw was the only point for St. Johns in the second quarter as Show Low took a commanding 26-7 lead at halftime.
The second half mirrored the first as the Cougars outscored the Redskins 25-7. Riane De La Cruz led all scorers with 10 points highlighted by a 3-pointer very near what the NBA players have to shoot from. Carlos Robles brought down 12 rebounds while Andre Henderson with three assists and four steals highlighted the Cougars’ floor game. A very deep set of reserves played the entire fourth quarter for the Cougars and held the host court Redskins to just one field goal.
Show Low 69, Round Valley 40
A basket off the opening tip and two Round Valley turnovers in the first minute gave the Cougars three shots at scoring and they did not fail. Cougar Cooke scored first on a drive to the basket and Carlos Robles with an offensive rebound and a steal got the next two baskets and the Cougars had a quick 6-0 lead.
That lead remained steady and the Cougars held a 14-7 lead after the first quarter. The second quarter started much like the first as Cougar Cooke scored six quick points off turnovers by the Elks. Three baskets by Preston Power gave the Cougars a 32-14 lead with two minutes remaining in the half before the Elks countered with four points to make the halftime score 32-18.
The second half was a repeat of the first as the Cougars kept the “pedal on the gas” and outscored the Elks 37-22. Again Cougar Cooke with six quick points in the third quarter and Mark Drouillet with 8 in the fourth fueled the Show Low team.
The finishing touch for the Cougars was a long 3-point shot by senior Charles Cooley which may have brought the loudest cheer from the home crowd.
Cooke’s 21 points and Drouillet’s 15 led the way for the Cougars. Andre Henderson brought down 11 rebounds and Riane De La Cruz tallied six assists to add to the win. The Cougars overall had 15 assists, 19 steals, and 27 rebounds to further control the outcome of the game.
Opening the season with two wins and one loss, Show Low has shown that it has a lot of heart. This is demonstrated by hustle and a sticky defense. A penchant for fouls and inopportune turnovers have kept them from a perfect 3-0 start to the season.
The defending Arizona state champion Page Lady Sand Devils were first up this week for Show Low.
After a hot start in the game for the Cougars, Page asserted itself with its quickness and scored 14 unanswered points to never look back in its 62-47 victory.
Friday night, the Cougars hosted the Round Valley Elks and came away with a gutsy 40-30 victory leading throughout the entire game.
Page 62, Show Low 47
Coach Mike Brogan’s Cougars got the quick start he likes and shot out to an 11-2 lead behind seniors Tyann Wallentin with six points and Kyra Brogan with five. Three quick fouls and two turnovers within two minutes plus a last second 3-point shot by Page and the lead was only 12-10 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter started like the first ended and Page did most of the scoring. The Cougars had gone over 6½ minutes without a score and trailed 21-13 a little over halfway through the quarter. Page was not done with its hot streak and added 10 more points to Show Low’s five to lead 31-18 at the half. Again fouls (three) and turnovers (five), plus two missed layups, and the Cougars struggled to right the ship.
Page showed a tenacious man-to-man defense in the third quarter and made it difficult for the Cougars to get back in the game. Tyann Wallentin scored two quick buckets midway through the quarter but Page answered right back with two baskets off of offensive rebounds and regained control. Baskets by Nicole Rolen and Kyra Brogan in the last minute of the quarter brought the Cougars back to a 45-28 deficit.
Rolen hit her first two shots to start the fourth quarter to cut the lead, but the old bugaboo of fouls and turnovers rose back up. An 11-2 run for Page put the game out of reach and though the Cougars never quit, the Sand Devils lead was just too much to overcome.
Rolen with 13 points and Wallentin with 10 led the Cougars in scoring while Brogan had 6 rebounds to go with her nine points. Three Cougars (Wallentin, Brogan, and Mikenzie Kulish) each had two assists to lead the floor play.
Show Low 40, Round Valley 30
Though a tendency to foul and turn the ball over to their opponents was very present in the game against the Round Valley Elks, the Cougars used strong defense and rebounding to gain the victory. Kenzie Brogan used the first 30 seconds to score the game’s first five points and the Cougars never relinquished the lead. Brogan added a bucket three minutes into the game to offset an Elk free throw for an early 7-1 lead.
Mikenzie Kulish made all four of her field goals, including two 3-pointers, and added four free throws to lead the team in scoring with 14 points. Tyann Wallentin grabbed 10 rebounds, which were more than the Elks’ game total of 8. Kulish with four assists and 3 steals and Nicole Rolen with three assists aided the Cougars’ march toward victory.
The Cougar defense was the big difference in the game as they took away the passing lanes from the Elks. Also, control of the boards was a very telling part of the victory as the Cougars brought down 22 rebounds to Round Valley’s eight. Overall, the victory was refreshing for the Show Low Cougars following the frustrating loss to Page earlier in the week.