ECHO — Once the Echo Cougars were allowed to pick on somebody their own size, the outcomes have started going a lot more in their liking.
The Cougars improved to 2-0 against Class 1A competition after taking their Big Sky Conference opener from Condon/Wheeler at home Friday, a 46-31 final.
“You can see the difference now at the end of this one when they came out with man (defense) and started pressuring us. We could handle it because of those first couple games,” Campbell said. “It was a good preseason schedule for us to get used to that.”
Against the Knights (2-5, 0-1 BSC), Echo never trailed but never had much breathing room, either. The deficit lingered near five to eight points for most of the game until a Cougars’ surge at the end of the fourth quarter that resulted in the final score and Echo’s largest lead of the contest.
Condon/Wheeler coach Jon Moore chalked that trend up to free throws. His boys were down and looking to extend the game with fouls. But Echo just wouldn’t stop tallying those charity points.
“We got in the bonus and when you’re playing behind you tend to try and be more aggressive to try and get steals,” Moore said. “I thought our defense was fine, but when we get that late in the game they get free shots at the free throw line.”
Echo made eight of 10 from the free throw line in the final quarter.
The Knights’ poor second-half shooting didn’t make a comeback any easier. After making better than 40 percent of attempts in the first half, Condon/Wheeler shot a measly 15 percent after halftime.
The Cougars had come into the game wanting to work the ball inside to their bigger bodies, the 6-foot-1 Treve Moffit and 6-footer Dylan Enright among them. But Echo strayed from the plan early — to coach Campbell’s dismay. Echo shot eight times from 3-point range before half, making none.
The Cougars would refocus their attention inside after that point and attempt just a trio of 3s in the second half — also all misses.
“Coach told us slow the offense down, run the offense, because we were rushing the shot pretty much,” said Moffit, who led the Cougars with 14 points. “We did that and got some open looks underneath. After we moved the ball around, it opened up inside.”
Enright scored another 11 points and led the Cougars with seven rebounds as Echo began to take care of its possessions. The Knights nearly double the Cougars in turnovers, 25 to 13.
Nick Shaffer scored nine points to lead Condon/Wheeler and Riley Greenfield was the only double-digit rebounder Friday with 10 boards.
Despite both boys measuring in at 6 foot 4, the Knights struggled to stop the inside offense of Echo. Dalton Hughes and Brian Gutierrez had four and three assists, respectively, dishing the ball into the post to the bigger bodies.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 9660-0839.