The two-time defending sectional champions Trinity Lutheran Cougars aimed for a three-peat with a much younger squad Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they couldn’t muster enough offense presence as they fell 40-22 to Orleans in the Class 1A West Washington Sectional.
In the first quarter, on the first possession, freshman Maddie Roark opened the game with a steal that she converted into a layup to give the Cougars the early advantage.
Roark hit another layup, and added a 3-pointer at the 5:45 mark to put the Cougars up 7-2.
With 2:56 remaining in the opening quarter, Roark hit one of two free throws.
The Cougars wouldn’t score another point in the first eight minutes, and the Bulldogs’ Caitlin Rutherford sunk a 3-pointer at 2:17 to narrow the deficit to 8-7.
Offense proved the most difficult for Trinity in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs’ Addie Ramsey managed a field goal at 7:05 to give her team the first lead of the night.
Piper Acton hit the Cougars’ only field goal of the quarter, a 3-pointer, at 2:28 to re-tie the game.
At halftime, Orleans held the 14-11 advantage thanks to a trey from Lillie Daugherty.
Following halftime the Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run.
Roark ended the Cougars’ dry spell with a 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the third.
Trinity’s’ Hailley Peters hit the final field goal in the quarter with 58 seconds left to narrow the deficit to 24-16.
From the start of the final eight minutes to the 5:11 mark, the Bulldogs went on a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 33-16.
Following a pair of made free throws by Roark, at 5:03, Orleans strung together a 7-0 run.
The final two minutes, the Bulldogs mostly worked the ball until the final whistle.
Roark led the Cougars with 13 points and Taylor Wheeler topped the Bulldogs with 9.
With a final season tally of 388 points, Roark finished just 12 points short of the Trinity’s record for scoring in a season.
The Bulldogs finished with 22 turnovers to the Cougars’ 16.
On the boards Orleans dominated, out-rebounding the Cougars 30 to 13.
“It was one of those nights,” Lang said. “We had our best practice of the year last night, and I told (our coaches) that it had me worried having that best practice coming into tonight. We did a lot of good things, but we came out tonight and did the opposite of everything we worked on in practice. Our focus and confidence wasn’t there.”
Sydney Stuckwisch, Angi Bergstedt and Kaitlyn Wright will graduate this school year.
“It’s no fun saying goodbye to the seniors,” Lang said. “They’re going to go on and do excellent things. Kaitlyn and Angi are the first two girls I had all four years. Sydney came in her sophomore year. We’ve experienced great things together — two sectional championships. We had a lot of fun on those nights. We’re all going in separate directions but I told them that’s one thing we will always have, those special nights. We’re going to miss them next year.”
The Cougars finish 11-13 on the season, and will return 10 players next season.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in that locker room right now,” Lang said. “We still have some things to work on. We’re going to have to really work on our left, shooting and confidence in the off season. Nobody wants a season to come to an end like this but in the end there’s only one winner.”