In the first moments of the second half Thursday night, it seemed as if the game was getting away from Mountain View, like it had so many times this season.
The Cougars, who had just one Intermountain Conference girls basketball victory heading into their matchup against visiting Ridgeview, had trailed the Ravens by nine points at halftime and promptly allowed two field goals to open the third quarter. But two unassuming baskets by Cassidy Hughes ignited a 12-0 Mountain View run that put the Cougars back in the game and propelled them to an eventual 59-55 victory.
After opening conference play with eight straight losses, Mountain View (2-8 IMC, 4-15 overall) has now won two in a row.
“Usually we kind of let our heads down once we get that (far behind), but we kept pushing hard,” Hughes said. “It’s so exciting. I think our team — we definitely worked hard enough to get here, and we’re really happy.”
After Hughes narrowed the Ravens lead to 40-31, Mia Morey hit a shot while being fouled. Although she missed the ensuing free throw, she grabbed her own rebound and drove the lane for another field goal, closing the gap by four points in just one possession. Mariah Murphy hit a free throw to bring the deficit to four, and then Morey drilled a 3-pointer to bring the Cougs to within a point, 40-39, in the third quarter. Brenna Pinkerton then hit two free throws for the Ravens, but Braya Robbins responded with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 42-42.
“We could never quite get over the hump,” Mountain View coach Steve Riper said of his team putting together an impressive rally. “We’d be down by 10 or 12 and hit five, but then give up six points right away or something. But over the last week and a half, two weeks, we played really strong against Bend High (and Redmond). It’s a function of them continuing to work hard, believe in themselves, trust their teammates and keep fighting and working.”
Hughes finished the game with 22 points for the Cougars, and Morey scored 16 of her 20 points in the second half.
“She’s very skilled, and she just kind of quietly does her job, and the next thing you know, she has 18 to 20 points,” Riper said of Hughes. “Last year, she almost tried too hard, but she’s really learned to let the game come to her and stay in the flow of the game. She has a nose for the ball, she knows when to rebound, and she shoots the ball well.”
Brenna Pinkerton led the Ravens (3-8, 5-14) with 18 points, and her teammate Aspen Jeter finished with 15.
“We’ve talked about (the fact that) we’re not going to make the playoffs,” Riper said. “But we have pride, and we can affect the outcome of the IMC standings by making things interesting.”
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