The Cascade boys’ basketball team isn’t going into the holiday break riding a winning streak as it had hoped, but the Cougars are still heading into the halt in action playing the type of basketball that their head coach is happy with, even after they were beaten, 40-21, by Beckman in Cascade, Dec. 21.
“That’s who we are. We’ve been there and done that before. We told ourselves that this is a fun game to play. You want to play in this type of game. It’s a non-conference game, so let’s go play,” said Jacob Brindle, head coach of the Cougars. “This is a good team. Let’s go see how we do.”
As the Cougars wanted, the first half was a defensive slugfest with both teams showcasing their stingy defensive styles. Cascade’s zone was quickly flowing to the ball forcing the Blazers, who came into the game averaging 57.7 points per game, to be patient and value each possession. Beckman didn’t score back-to-back buckets until the three-minute mark in the second quarter when Mason White’s three followed a tough floater in the lane by Michael Keegan. That gave Beckman a 13-6 lead, but the two teams traded baskets as the visitors held a 15-8 lead at halftime. Carter Green scored for Cascade on a dribble, drive lay-up in the lane while Keegan scored over Alex Aitchison in the lane.
Cascade came out swinging in the second half as they looked to get the ball to Aitchison. Michael Trumm found him on the block for an easy two and the two-man game continued when Aitchison kicked the ball back out to Trumm who swished a three that cut the lead to two, 15-13.
After a defensive stop, Cascade again looked inside to Aitchison who went up strong through a foul to get off the shot. The ball hung on the rim and when it fell through the net the crowd erupted as the Cougars pulled even with the Blazers, the top-ranked team in Class 2A. Aitchison went to the line with the chance to take their first lead of the night, but he was off the mark. That surge woke up Beckman who went on a 9-0 run. Cooper Rausch converted a steal into a lay-up to stop the run and get the lead back to seven, 24-17, entering the fourth quarter.
“We focused on just coming out and playing hard. We did that and tied the game at 15-15 in the second quarter. We missed a free throw to take the lead and then we just kind of gave some possessions away and that cost us,” said Brindle about his halftime message. “It was three or four possessions in a game that just kill you and that’s what happened to us after the guys fought so hard to get back into the game.”
In the fourth quarter, Beckman grew the lead to 11 but the Cougars did their best to hang around and kept the lead under 10 points until there were two minutes left in the game.
“This was basically an eight or nine-point game and that’s what we wanted to make it going into the fourth quarter. We just didn’t make enough shots tonight,” said Brindle. “Hats off to Beckman. They had kids step up and make plays for them. At the end of the day, we gave the ball away too many times. We competed our butts off. We focused on defense and spent so much energy on defense that when we got the ball we got a little ahead of ourselves.”
With the loss, the Cougars go into the break at 3-4 overall and 3-3 in conference games. However, even though they seem to be going in the wrong direction after losing three of their last four games, Brindle was very encouraged with how his guys battled and didn’t back down to Beckman in this non-conference clash.
“Our goal coming into this game, win or lose, was to enter the break better, and we got better through this game. We now know that if we play a certain way that we can control how games are played. We created the game. We didn’t let Beckman create the game. We made Beckman play a Cascade game. That’s key for us going forward,” said Brindle with a smile. “We have a lot of good teams coming up after the break. We’re leaving here a couple of boards better than how we came in. You don’t want to lose, but in the same token you want to get better and we got better tonight.”
Cascade’s leaders were: points — Aitchison 10, Trumm five, Carter Green, Caden Reinke and Rausch two; rebounds — Aitchison and Carter Green seven, Eli Green and Reinke five, Rausch two, Trumm one; assists — Trumm three, Aitchison, Carter Green and Reinke one; steals — Rausch and Trumm two; blocks — Aitchison and Reinke two, Trumm one.