Cowgirls outgun Dawson, improve to 7-3

The Custer County District High School Cowgirls were carried by a season-high 27 points from sophomore guard Kyra Oakland to eke past the Lady Red Devils  of Dawson County 50-46 on Friday. 

Kaelei Koenig dropped in the first bucket of the game in her usual under-the-net territory, but turnovers by both teams contributed to a slow start on the scoreboard. The Cowgirls led after one quarter 11-10, but there were few glimpses of the run-and-gun game the Cowgirls usually enforce. 

“We knew it was going to be tough,” said Cowgirls’ head coach Aaron Essex. “They’re tough. They’re taller than we are. We knew all week it was going to be a tough game, but we won, and we’ll take the win any time we can get one.” 

Dawson came prepared to break the Cowgirls’ full-court press, but still the Cowgirls forced 22 Lady Red Devil turnovers. 

Oakland scored 16 of the Cowgirls’ 29 points in the first half, on her way to shooting 60 percnet from the field and a solid 75 percent from the foul line. 

Oakland said she was unaware of her season-high mark. “It feels great,” she said after hearing the points tally. “All the work we’ve put in this season, and with summer ball, it just feels awesome.”

The Cowgirls went on an 11-4 run in the second quarter and led 29-23 at the half. The Lady Red Devils were out for more in the third quarter and outscored the Cowgirls 18-14 behind a trio of three-point shots. 

Neither team could find the bottom of the net in the fourth quarter, with the Cowgirls hitting just seven points to Dawson’s five. 

The Cowgirls’ sixth man — a large and loud student section dressed in boots, chaps, and cowboy hats — showed up early in the fourth when senior guard Jenna Swope hit her third foul and Dawson’s free throws tied the game at 43. 

Undeterred, Oakland dropped in two off a Swope assist and after five missed Cowgirl attempts, drew the foul and hit two from the line. Dawson’s Courtney Nagle answered with a bucket of her own and tacked on a free throw after a Koenig foul. Koenig put a little distance on the board with a hard-fought bucket, but as the student section roared back and forth with Dawson’s contingent, three points were all that separated the teams as the clock wound down.

Swope stripped the ball on defense and was immediately fouled, but her 0-2 trip to the line on the double-bonus kept the Lady Red Devils within reach. 

A Cowgirl turnover led to a collective breath-holding as Dawson’s sharpshooting senior Wyniah Mintz launched up a shot from beyond the arc, but missed. Dawson pulled in the offensive rebound, but Taya Torres committed her fifth foul, sending Cowgirl junior Ashley Venable to the line. 

With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Venable missed her first attempt but sank the second, putting the ball back in Dawson’s hands. The Cowgirls allowed the offense across the line and did not force foul or shot, securing the four-point win to the large crowd’s approval. 

“The girls put themselves in a position to take the lead at the end, but we had five consecutive possessions without a shot attempt,” said Lady Red Devils head coach Kayla Rivas. 

Oakland also snagged eight rebounds and Swope seven, and Koenig added 13 points in the game. 

The Lady Red Devils were led by Mintz with 13 and Carrie Nagle with nine. 

The Cowgirls improved to 7-3 overall and 3-2 in the Eastern A Conference wit hte win. 

The junior varsity Cowgirls notched a home win against Dawson’s JV 38-26, led by junior Amanda Beard with 11 and sophomore Josie Chapweske with eight. Sophomore guard Channing Ellingson pulled down 10 boards.