Cowboys lose to Laurel 34-30 in low-scoring affair

By Abe Winter Star Staff Writer

STAR PHOTO/Sharon Moore

Custer County District High School’s Steven Ray (23) blocks a shot against Laurel on Tuesday while teammates Logan Peila

(20) and Gabe Gundlach (11) trail the play. Laurel won 34-30.

It just doesn’t seem right to hold a team under 35 points and lose a basketball game.

Yet that’s what happened Tuesday when Custer County District High School (CCDHS) fell 34-30 to Laurel in Eastern A Conference play at the CCDHS gymnasium.

Call it good defense on both ends or, if you will, notso-good offense. No matter, it’s the Laurel way, and the Locomotives put a damper on Senior Parents Night.

“They only average 44 points,” CCDHS coach Houston Finn said. “They don’t mind keeping it low, but I’m proud of our defense. We put a lot of heart and effort into it.”

So was CCDHS guard Kaden Stradley, who was the only player on either team in double figures with 13 points.

“We stepped up our game after last night when we gave up 66,” Stradley said, reflecting on a 66-42 loss at Hardin. “So we give up 34 and it’s an improvement ... to battle on and try to get a win.”

That didn’t happen as Laurel improved to 4-3 in the Eastern A and 10-7 overall while dropping the Cowboys to 2-7 and 5-11.

There were many scoring droughts in this game. After building a 12-4 lead, the Locomotives managed only three points the whole second quarter, which saw the Cowboys take a 17-15 halftime lead.

It turned again in the third quarter when the Cowboys scored only two points on a dazzling move by Jayden Venable. However, the Locomotives were ahead of the foul-plagued Cowboys 24-19 entering the fourth quarter.

Stradley and Gabe Gundlach each had three fouls by halftime and Gundlach picked up his fourth midway through the third quarter.

Laurel extended its lead to as many as nine points in the final period, but hurt itself with missed free throws. The Cowboys clawed within four points three times, but couldn’t get closer in the final minute.

“We lost focus and didn’t execute our offense,” Stradley said.

Venable added six points for the Cowboys, followed by Gundlach and Steven Ray, who fouled out, with four each. Dayron Johnson added two points and Keith Vanderlaan one.

Colter Bales, who started the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer, scored seven points in the first half and was Laurel’s top producer. Dante Filpula-Ankney and Gage Leischner added six points each.

The Locomotives were 11 of 25 on free throws; CCDHS was 9 of 14. There were 23 fouls whistled against the Cowboys, including eight of the first nine, and Laurel was assessed 19 fouls.

The Cowboys close their regular season at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at Dawson County High School in Glendive.

The outcome could impact seeding for the Eastern A Divisional next week (Feb. 21-24) in Billings. “It’s a very important game for both teams,” Finn said.

(Contact Abe Winter at or 406-234-0450.)

“We stepped up our game after last night when we gave up 66.”
— Kaden Stradley Custer County Cowboy