Rivals fall to Cougars after amassing first-half lead

Posted 1/17/22

The Rivals dropped their boys basketball game against Cascade Christian School Thursday, with the Cougars winning by thin margins.

At the final whistle East Jefferson fell short on their home …

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Rivals fall to Cougars after amassing first-half lead

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The Rivals dropped their boys basketball game against Cascade Christian School Thursday, with the Cougars winning by thin margins.

At the final whistle East Jefferson fell short on their home court, losing 65-56 in a back-and-forth affair that snapped the boys’ two-game winning streak.

Rivals Head Coach Emanuel Abbott was satisfied with the first-half performance from his team, but was critical of the boys’ play in the second.

“The effort at the beginning of the game; they played lights out. Everybody played great in that first half,” Abbott said. “It was the second half that we had a big letdown.”

After the tipoff, EJ was off to the races with a frenzy of scoring plays. The Rivals controlled the first quarter from start to finish with solid defense, scores on the fast break, and great team passing.

The score at the end of the first was 22-8 Rivals.

The Cougars found their shooting form in the second period, but EJ kept pace with their opponents and left for the locker rooms with a sizable 37-26 lead at halftime.

Cascade Christian’s hot shooting continued to sizzle in the third period as three-pointers rained down from the perimeter. Little by little, the Cougars cut into EJ’s lead. The Rivals’ advantage began to dwindle as their fast-break opportunities disappeared.

To add to EJ’s misfortune, sophomore starter Keidan Guzman was sidelined for most of the second half with what appeared to be a lower leg injury.

The Rivals fought with passion but the Cougars pounced on the home team to edge a one-point lead as the end of the third period arrived.

In the fourth period, EJ had a better defensive effort but struggled to hit their shots from the outside. The Cougars continued to rain shots from the three-point arc and left with a 65-56 victory away from home.

Senior guard Lonnie Kenney led the Rivals in scoring with 17 points, followed by sophomore forward Keidan Guzman with 13 points. Sophomore Brody Moore and junior Lorenzo McCleese scored five points each. 

Abbott was frustrated with the loss but expressed optimism at the first-half showing from the boys.

“It’s definitely a great sign for us, I do see us trending upward,” Abbott said. “As long as we keep our effort, energy, and attitude — we’ll be fine.”

With Thursday’s loss, EJ’s boys basketball team sits at a 3-6 record (2-5 against league opponents) as they look to make a run for the playoffs in February.

“We’ve got some winnable games coming up still before we get into the top couple teams in the league, and we’ll see what we can do from there,” Abbott said.

Next up, the Rivals will face Vashon Island High School Jan. 14 at Vashon Island.

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