Crow Revved Up for State

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Jude The Register-Guard

CROW - About 45 minutes before tip-off, a young man at the Crow Country Store had two harsh yet matter-of-fact expectations of the Crow boys basketball team: destroy and dominate.

The Cougars quickly obliged.

Hosting their first state playoff game in nearly two decades, the second-ranked Cougars took control from the tip and breezed past North Lake, 74-36, on Friday in the OSAA Class 1A playoffs before a rambunctious, standing-room-only gathering at Crow High School.

Crow (22-4), the Mountain West League champion, advanced to the Class 1A tournament next week in Baker City, where the Cougars will face Ione in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

"We want to win it all," second-year Crow coach Ryan Harbert said. "We're very confident and we're excited."

Point guard Jesse Meeks got things going early for Crow, scoring eight points in the first three minutes, then assisting on two more buckets as the Cougars built a 14-5 lead by the 4:05 mark of the first quarter.

"The last few games we started out a little slow, so it was our goal this game to take it to them and intimidate them," said Meeks, who finished with game highs of 18 points and seven assists.

North Lake couldn't keep up with Crow's high-energy pace, connecting on just two field goals and two free throws in the first quarter as the Cougars held a 28-7 lead.

Junior post Kevin Stevens-Slaughter finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for Crow. Andy Becker came off the bench to score 12 points and Levi McCay added 10.

John Young had 17 points and Aaron Boriak added 10 for the Cowboys, the No. 3 seed from the Skyline League.

The Cougars last hosted a playoff game in 1986, when they defeated Mapleton 50-44 in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs en route to a third-place finish at the state tournament.

Crow moved from the 2A Trico League to the 1A Mountain West before this season.

With chants of "Baker City" echoing in the rafters, Crow fans poured onto the floor after the final buzzer to congratulate the Cougars, who were undefeated at home this season.

"We knew there was going to be a good crowd, but we didn't know it'd be like this," Meeks said. "It's just awesome."

Crow hit 20-of-33 shots (61 percent) in the first half to take a 45-25 lead at the break. North Lake had 16 first-half turnovers and shot 8-of-24 (33 percent) from the field.

Overall, the Cowboys committed 33 turnovers and shot 13-of-45 (29 percent).

"Our defense has really gotten better," Harbert said. "We're jumping to the ball, denying the heck out of people."

The Cougars poured it on in the third quarter, outscoring North Lake 24-2 to take 69-27 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Harbert emptied his bench in the fourth, leaving the starters to celebrate from the sideline.

"I'm feeling really good," Steven-Slaughter said. `(A good start is) really nice because it means we don't have to work as hard in the second half. …