BY NORM BETZ
The Cossatot River Eagles headed to the 3A Region 4 Tournament as the No. 3 seed out of District 7 and left Fordyce, Arkansas with a No. 2 seed heading to the 3A State Tournament. Cossatot River lost to McGehee in the Regional Championship, 45-40, to finish as the regional runner-up.
The Eagles battled their way to the championship by defeating teams that were ranked higher than them coming out of the district tournament. Cossatot River’s first-round match-up was against the No. 2 seed out of District 8, Smackover. The Eagles defeated the Buckaroos, 54-50 to advance to the semifinals and thus securing a spot in the 3A State Championship. The Eagles next opponent was the No. 1 seed out of their own District 7, Prescott. Once again the underdog roll fit Cossatot River, as they defeated the Curley Wolves, 65-59, to advance to the 3A Region 4 Championship. The Eagles ultimately fell to McGehee in the Championship, 45-40, but locked up a No. 2 seed for the 3A State Tournament.
Five Eagles put their names in the score book, with senior Joshua Jordan leading the way with 13 points. Senior Ben Counts finished with 12 points, Sophomore Cody Baker tossed in nine points, senior Edgar Gonzalez added four points, and sophomore Marco Ramirez was good for two points.
Cossatot River scored the first basket of the contest, when Gonzalez grabbed a rebound and put it back up and in for the Eagles only lead of the opening quarter. McGehee lead by two at the end of the first, 13-11. Baker drilled his first of three three-pointers in the game to cut the Owls’ lead to one, 6-5 with 4:10 to play in the quarter. One minute later, Ramirez grabbed his only points of the contest on a lay-up to cut the lead to 9-7. Counts provided the last two buckets for Cossatot River, the first a driving lay-up and then a 15-foot jumper. McGehee led by four points three different times in the first, but the lead was just two, 13-11, when the quarter expired.
The Eagles outscored the Owls 11-6 in the second quarter to take a 22-19 lead to the locker room at halftime. Baker stated off the scoring hitting one from beyond the arc to cut the Owls lead to one, 15-14. Jordan knocked down a pair from the line to give Cossatot River their second lead of the game, 16-15 with 5:27 left in the second. The Eagles held onto the lead for the rest of the quarter as Counts drilled a 14-foot baseline jumper and later added a driving lay-up. Gonzalez snatched a rebound and laid it in off the glass to round out the second quarter scoring for Cossatot River.
Unfortunately, the Owls came out in the third quarter and flipped the second quarter scoring, outscoring the Eagles 11-6, to take a 30-28 lead at the end of the third. Cossatot River led on two different occasions, 25-23 and 26-25. Jordan provided both leads, one was from three-point land, and the other was from the charity stripe. In fact, Jordan was the only Eagle to score in the third, as he later threw in a lay-up to cut the lead to two points as the horn sounded.
The Eagles grabbed the lead twice in the final quarter but just couldn’t contain the Owls as they went on to defeat Cossatot River, 45-40. Baker drilled a pair of threes that gave the Eagles the lead both times in the quarter. Counts added a pair of buckets during that time frame, one on a 14-foot turnaround jumper and the other via a lay-up. Baker’s second trifecta of the quarter put Cossatot River up 38-37 with 3:40 to play. The Eagles last points of the game came with 1:17 to play, when Jordan made a pair of free throws to cut the Owls’ lead to 41-40. McGehee closed out the game hitting a lay-up and making two-of-four from the charity stripe to win the championship, 45-40.
Joshua Jordan led the Eagles with 13 points. Ben Counts added 12 points, Cody Baker finished with nine points, Edgar Gonzalez finished with four points, and Marco Ramirez rounded out the Cossatot River scoring with two points. The Eagles only went to the line six times in the contest, while the Owls shot 20 free throws. Cossatot River (Jordan shot all six free throws) shot 83% from the line, while McGehee shot 60%, hitting 12-of-20 from the stripe.
Cossatot River will be hosting the 3A State Tournament, which is set to run from March 3rd to March 7th. The Eagles will be the No. 2 seed from region 4 and will face the No. 3 seeded Flippin Bobcats from region 3, on Saturday, March 7th, with tip-off slated for 2:30 p.m.