Lady Huskies punch ticket to divisionals
All four Stillwater County teams duked it out at district tournaments this week. In the end, only one qualified for the divisional tournament.
The Huskies kicked off tournament play with a good cross-county rivalry game as Absarokee took on the RPR Renegades.
The game was tight from tipoff, and by the end of the first quarter, the Renegades had a 9-7 lead. A deadlocked second sent the teams to the locker rooms at half with a two-point Renegade lead.
The second half of the game began where the first left off. Absarokee was able to put up just enough points to tie the game going into the fourth quarter. In the final minutes of the game, the Huskies were able to distance themselves from the Renegades for a 34-19 win.
Junior Mallorey Sheppard led Absarokee with 11 points. Seniors Emma LaMoure and Rebecka Lester each scored seven.
For RPR, sophomore Carlee Blodgett led the team with 17 points. Senior Nynah Bryant scored four.
With the win, the Huskies had to play a tough Harlowton Engineers team in the semifinals on Friday.
The Engineers jumped to an 11-6 first quarter lead. The second quarter was much closer, but Harlow retained the lead, 19-12, going into halftime.
Absarokee’s offense came out of halftime flat, and Harlowton was able to extend the lead. Despite putting up a more competitive fourth quarter performance, the Huskies could not catch the Engineers. Harlowton won the game, 40-22.
Junior Makensi McCally led the team with six points, followed by Lester with five. Sheppard and senior Hana Kelly each contributed four.
The loss sent Absarokee to loser-out play against Park City Saturday morning.
Both offenses came out firing from tipoff. The Huskies put up an impressive 28-point quarter to jump to an early nine-point lead. In the second quarter, the offenses stalled, and Park City scored the only three points to cut the Absarokee lead to six points at halftime.
The second half was very tight. Park City was able to get within five points several times in the final minutes, but the Panthers could not quite make the comeback. Absarokee won the game, 42-35.
Sheppard had a good game for Absarokee, scoring 20. Kelly had seven points, and Lester put up five.
Junior Blakely Verke led Park City with 10 points, followed by junior Alyx Grabowska with seven. Freshman Abby Hoffman scored five.
The win earned Absarokee a place in the consolation game and a trip to the divisional tournament.
Saturday evening, the Huskies faced the Plenty Coups Lady Warriors in the consolation game.
The first quarter was close, with Plenty Coups creating a six-point lead to end the first period of play. In the second quarter, the Lady Warriors began to pull away as Absarokee shots failed to fall, and Plenty Coups led 38-16 at halftime.
The Husky offense performed well in the third, outscoring the Lady Warriors 12-4. The tough Plenty Coups defense, paired with a tired Absarokee offense meant the Lady Warriors could not be caught, though, winning with a 68-38 final.
The Class C Southern Divisional Tournament is in Miles City March 1–3. The Huskies open with a game against Wibaux Thursday afternoon.
The Renegades began the tournament with the 34-29 loss to Absarokee.
RPR Coach Tricia Hess noted that while the girls struggled to make shots and had a high number of turnovers, they were still able to make a fourth quarter run. Unfortunately, the Renegades came up short.
The first-round loss sent RPR to a loser-out game against the Roberts Rockets Friday morning.
The game started out very slow, with only five total points scored in the first quarter. The Renegade offense started rolling in the second quarter, though. RPR went on a 32-3 run in the second and third quarters to cruise to a 43-15 victory.
Blodgett put up 12 points against the Rockets, and Bryant scored 10. Senior Brittany Albers contributed seven.
The win pitted the Renegades against the Plenty Coups Lady Warriors Saturday morning in the final loser-out game of the tournament.
Both teams came out ready to extend their seasons. The first quarter was close, with RPR playing good defense. Going into the second, Plenty Coups had an 11-7 lead. The teams continued to battle, and at halftime, the Lady Warriors still held an eight-point lead.
The Renegades came back from the break with renewed energy, making shots and playing tough defense. With two minutes left in the third quarter, RPR took the lead 31-29 on two Albers free throws. Entering the fourth, however, the Lady Warriors were again on top, 35-31.
It all came down to the fourth quarter. With 4:30 left in the game, the Renegades regained a two-point lead. RPR was able to maintain a small lead for about three minutes, but Plenty Coups got it back with about a minute left to play.
In the final seven seconds of the game, Plenty Coups missed four free throws, but RPR was only able to make one free throw, leading to a 43-42 Lady Warriors victory.
The loss ended the Renegades’ season. RPR lost both district games by a total of six points.
Hess was very happy with how her girls played against Plenty Coups. The Renegades were taking good shots, but the shots were not falling in RPR’s favor. The team was about 50 percent from the free throw line.
While that is not the way the Renegades hoped to end the season, Hess mentioned how the team had come together and improved so much since the last time the two teams met. During that outing, RPR lost by over 40 points.
Including tournament play, the Renegades ended the last couple weeks of the season with a 7-2 record.
On Thursday, the Panthers opened with a game against a tough Bridger squad.
Park City started the game slow on offense, and the team never really found its rhythm. A 19-5 Bridger lead at halftime morphed into a 38-13 final score.
Grabowska led the team with six points, followed by sophomore Hayley Story with five.
The loss put Park City in a loser-out situation against the Broadview-Lavina Pirates on Friday afternoon.
The Panthers jumped to an early 8-3 lead, but the Pirates fought back in the second quarter, shrinking the Park City lead to three at halftime. The second half remained close, but the Panthers were able to add three points to the lead in both the third and fourth quarters for the 37-28 victory.
Story scored 12 points against Broadveiw-Lavina, and junior Kasidy Robbins had eight. Grabowska put up six points.
Park City Coach Michelle Gauthier was happy with the girls’ efforts, noting that the man-to-man Panther defense worked well.
The victory sent Park City to play Absarokee Saturday morning. The Huskies were able to out-last the Panthers 42-35.
Gauthier described the Saturday morning game as a “battle.” She said that while Park City had trouble containing Sheppard in the first half, the Panthers did a much better job in the second half, holding her to only one point.
“It wasn’t the outcome we set our sights on, but I feel the girls improved every week throughout the season,” Gauthier said.
She was glad the team ended the season with a strong work ethic. If the players continue to work hard in the off-season, Gauthier believes the team will reap the benefits next year.
The Cougars went into the 4B District Tournament in Huntley as the first seed, and so earned a first-round bye. On Friday, Columbus faced Red Lodge in the semifinals.
The game began slow, but by the end of the first quarter, the Cougars had an 8-4 lead. As the first half continued, Columbus maintained the lead with a patient offense and good defense. As halftime neared, though, the tide of the game shifted and Cougar shots stopped falling. With three seconds left in the half, Red Lodge tied the game at 12.
Third quarter action was back and forth, with the two teams trading the lead. At the halfway mark, Columbus had a slight lead, but by the end of the quarter, Red Lodge had a four-point lead.
The Cougars continued to battle, and with about six minutes left in the game, Columbus took the lead 27-25. With two minutes left Red Lodge took the lead back, and Cougar shots to tie the game failed to fall. The Lady Rams held on to win the game, 31-27.
Senior Camryn Ault led Columbus with 11 points. Juniors Morgan Kirch and Alexa Riveland scored six and four points, respectively.
The loss bumped Columbus to a loser-out game against Huntley on Saturday morning. The Cougars started the game strong, building a 13-6 first quarter lead. A close second quarter resulted in an 18-11 Columbus halftime lead.
The third quarter remained close, but the Cougars took control of the game in the final minutes for a 44-30 win.
Riveland led the team with 11 points, and Kirch added nine. Freshman Trista Teeters scored seven. Senior Maddi Carman led the team with seven rebounds.
Coach Jeromey Burke was proud of his players for not giving up after the loss to Red Lodge and going out and getting a win the next morning. He mentioned how points off the bench, particularly from Teeters and senior Shelby Wolery, were “invaluable.”
The victory sent the Cougars to a very tight consolation game against the Joliet J-Hawks. Columbus jumped to an early 22-8 lead, but Joliet fought back.
With 12 seconds left, the game was tied, and Riveland was able to make a tough layup with a couple seconds left in the game to secure the win. With the 36-34 victory, the Cougars took third place.
Riveland led the team with 19 points, and Kirch led with six rebounds.
As only two teams move from districts to divisionals this year, the Cougars were not in a position to advance. However, Red Lodge beat Roundup in an overtime championship game 39-38, which set up a situation in which Columbus could challenge Roundup for the second 4B place at the divisional tournament.
The challenge game was in Huntley on Monday. The Cougars scored first, but for a good portion of the first quarter, neither team scored. At the end of the quarter, Roundup scored a couple quick shots and free throws to gain the 8-4 lead.
The patient Columbus offense took its time and rebounded the ball well, but the shots were not falling. Roundup added to the lead, and going into halftime, the Panthers were on top 13-8.
Coming out of halftime the Cougar offense continued to move slowly, trying to find a rhythm. Entering the final minutes of the game, Columbus was down six points. The shots never began to fall in the Cougars’ favor, and Roundup won the game, 33-25.
Sophomore Brenna Rouane led the team in scoring with 11 points, and Kirch led with nine rebounds.
Burke noted how the game was very physical from tipoff, and Columbus struggled to match defensive physicality without sending the Panthers to the free throw line, where they are very effective. This led to the Cougars not really finding a rhythm.
The loss ended Columbus’ season. The Cougars had an overall record (including districts) of 14-8.
Burke said he is extremely proud of the girls and how they played this season. He noted that the team almost doubled last year’s win total, when Columbus won eight games. In addition to being the regular season champs this year, the two wins the Cougars had at districts this year were the first wins for a Columbus girls team at the district tournament for the last three years.
“While we would have liked to have moved on,” he noted, “that alone doesn’t define whether or not the season was a success.”
As the dust settled following the district basketball tournaments last weekend, two Stillwater County teams remained standing to earn places in the southern divisional tournament.
Going into the 6C District Tournament, the Park City Panthers were the first seed.
They opened tournament play against the eighth-seeded Roberts Rockets. The Panthers jumped to an early 20-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was closer, but entering halftime, Park City still had a healthy 33-15 lead.
Coming out of the break, the Panthers upped the intensity, going on a 24-3 run to ensure the victory. Park City won the game, 65-24.
The Panthers shot 55 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Rockets 28-8. Junior Connor McNeil led the team with 19 points. Tristen Johnstone, also a junior, put up 10, and senior Rylan Gauthier scored nine.
The win advanced Park City to the semifinals, where they faced county rivals, the Reed Point-Rapelje Renegades.
The Panther offense methodically put up points to begin the game while the Renegade offense started slow. Tough defense paired with good Panther rebounding ensured a 10-point Park City lead entering the second quarter. The pace of the game slowed in the second half, and going into the break, the Panthers were up 20-9.
As the second half of play began, the Park City offense started rolling while the RPR offense still struggled to find a rhythm. The Panthers went on a 17-5 run to extend the lead entering the final period. In the end, Park City recorded a 44-21 victory and advanced to the championship game.
McNeil again led the Panther offense with 13, followed by senior Talon Johnstone with 10. Gauthier and junior Austin Popp each scored eight points.
For RPR, the team was led by senior Trevor Herzog, with eight points, followed by junior Tristan Gieser with six.
In the championship, Park City played the Bridger Scouts, the only conference team to beat the Panthers in the regular season.
The game began slow, and Park City shots were not falling. The typically strong Panther offense failed to find a rhythm, and going into halftime, Bridger had a 21-13 lead.
Throughout the second half, Park City shots continued to find the rim, but not the net, as it seemed the Panthers could not buy a basket. The Scouts took advantage of the struggling Park City offense to win the game, 49-32. The Panthers finished the tournament in second place.
Gauthier led Park City with 14 points, going six for eight from the free throw line. McNeil contributed 12 points.
Despite the offensive woes, the Panthers rebounded well, led by McNeil with 11 boards. Gauthier and Popp each grabbed nine, and Talon Johnstone had eight rebounds.
Coach Ben Southworth felt his team played great defense and with great intensity throughout the tournament. The ball would not fall Park City’s way, and he acknowledged that sometimes that just happens.
“It can be very frustrating at times when shots you’ve put up time and time again just aren’t falling for you, and regardless of what was happening, we stayed composed, disciplined, continued to compete, and most importantly, we never gave up,” Southworth explained.
With the second place finish, Park City earned a place at this week’s Southern Class C Divisional Tournament in Laurel. The Panthers will face the Jordan Mustangs on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
A win will place Park City in the semifinal game Friday evening against the winner of the RPR-Melstone game. A loss would send the Panthers to loser-out action Friday afternoon against the RPR-Melstone loser.
Only two teams from the division will advance to play at state.
Southworth described Jordan as “a very fast team that likes to get out and run.” He said the Panthers will need a short memory and will need to come out strong against the Mustangs to set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
There are several very tough teams in the division, so Park City is preparing very hard to put together several strong games this week.
“I do feel like we have a lot of potential, and as long as we can continue to play lights-out defense, it will keep us in any game,” Southworth said.
The Renegades came out strong against Harlowton in RPR’s first-round matchup last Wednesday. A 25-14 lead at halftime increased as the Renegades cruised to a 44-27 victory.
The win sent RPR to the semifinals to face Park City. The Panthers took advantage of a slow Renegade offense for the 44-21 Park City victory.
With the loss, RPR was sent to a loser-out game Friday afternoon against the Absarokee Huskies.
The first quarter was tight, and after the initial minutes of the game, the Renegades had a 15-11 lead. In the second quarter, RPR was able to extend the lead as the Absarokee offense slowed. Going into the break, the Renegades had a 30-18 lead.
The second half was close, with neither team generating a large amount of offense. The Huskies could not quite catch the Renegades, though, as RPR took home the 49-34 win.
For the Renegades, Herzog had a good game, putting up 22 points. Senior John Schladweiler scored 14.
As for the Huskies, Absarokee was led by senior Joaquin Pilcher with 12 points. Senior Roman Zugaza and sophomore Zacc Degele each scored seven.
The win secured a place for RPR in the consolation game Saturday afternoon, and also earned the Renegades a spot at the divisional tournament.
In the consolation game, RPR faced a tough Plenty Coups Warriors team.
The fast-paced game began with an 8-2 Renegade run, but the Warriors struck back, and at the end of the first, Plenty Coups had a 16-15 lead. RPR played tough defense, and the team did a good job of grabbing rebounds.
The quick, physical, high intensity pace set in the first quarter continued throughout the game. After an extremely competitive second quarter, RPR entered the locker room at halftime down 33-30.
Coming out of the break, the RPR offense took advantage of a slow Plenty Coups offense to get a five-point lead going into the final minutes of the third quarter. Again, the Warriors fought back, and entering the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 48.
In the final minutes of the game the momentum shifted, and the Plenty Coups shots began to fall. The Warriors began to pull ahead, and the Renegades had trouble answering because the RPR shots were not falling. At the end of the game, Plenty Coups made several free throws to extend the lead, winning with a 69-55 final.
Herzog led the Renegades with 17 points, followed by Gieser with 12 and Schladweiler with nine.
RPR Coach Jerry Thompson mentioned how cold free throw shooting by the Renegades kept the team from getting the lead in the fourth quarter to pressure the Warriors. He was pleased with the team’s efforts against Plenty Coups, though.
With the loss, RPR earned fourth place in the district and will move on to divisionals this week.
Overall, Thompson said the team did not play its best at districts. The Renegades did not shoot well from the field or the free throw line, but Thompson felt the team played solid defense throughout the four-day tournament. He mentioned that RPR held its opponents to an average of 43 points per game.
The team is excited to be playing in divisionals, and they look to play better this week than they did last week.
The Renegades will have their work cut out for them as they face Melstone to open tournament play on Thursday at 1 p.m. Melstone is one of the best teams in the state, and Thompson mentioned that the team is talented with a deep bench.
In order to compete, each Renegade will have to give his all, according to Thompson.
As for a plan for divisionals, Thompson said, “We need to relax a little, get our shooting stroke back, work hard, have some fun, and see where we end up.”
The Huskies kicked off tournament play on Wednesday with a tough game against Bridger.
Both offenses worked very hard during the beginning minutes of the game, but Bridger out-performed Absarokee, creating an 18-10 Scout lead by the end of the first quarter. The second was closer, but going into halftime, the Huskies were down 29-17.
Bridger surged ahead in the third quarter, extending the lead. The last period belonged to Absarokee. Even though the Huskies out-scored the Scouts 22-12 in the final minutes, the comeback was not enough, and Bridger won, 63-49.
Pilcher had a good game for the Huskies, leading the team with 23 points. Zugaza and senior Cole Brown scored eight and five points, respectively.
The loss pushed Absarokee into loser-out play on Thursday afternoon against Broadview-Lavina. During the regular season the two squads had very close games, and the postseason matchup was no different. The game was tight from tipoff to final buzzer.
The two teams were very evenly matched, and by the end of the first quarter, Broadview-Lavina had a three-point lead. Both offenses continued to battle through the second quarter, and going into halftime, the Pirates had a six-point lead.
Absarokee came ready to fight, and throughout the third, the Huskies were able to eliminate the Pirate lead, and then some, to go into the final minutes up two points.
The fourth quarter showed what each team was made of. Absarokee would get the lead, and Broadview-Lavina would answer. With only 1:45 left in the game, the score was tied at
50 points. Sophomore Ashton Campbell made some key shots in those final seconds to go ahead and extend the lead with free throws. Those free throws down the stretch proved key for the Huskies, as Absarokee held on for a 59-53 victory.
Pilcher led the team, again, with 21 points. Campbell added 11, and both Zugaza and Degele scored seven.
The win sent the Huskies to play RPR on Friday. Absarokee could not keep up, and the Renegades won, 49-34. The second loss of the tournament ended the Huskies’ season.
Coach Gregg Feddes was proud of how hard his team played throughout the tournament.
“We talked a lot about giving everything you have so that win or lose you have no regrets,” he explained. “I thought we did that.”
Feddes felt the Broadview-Lavina game especially showed a lot of heart because the Huskies really had to fight for the win.
Feddes believes the 6C district will be well-represented at divisionals this week. The four best teams in the district proved themselves both during the regular season and at districts, and Absarokee wishes them good luck this week.
The Cougars came into the 4B District Tournament in Huntley last weekend ready to put the regular season behind them and play the role of the spoiler. In the first game of the tournament, Columbus had an opportunity to do just that against the home team, Huntley Project.
The Cougars jumped on the Red Devils fast, and by the end of the first quarter, had a 16-8 lead. Huntley fought back, in the second quarter, shrinking the Columbus lead to three points at halftime.
Coming out of the break, Huntley stole the momentum to go ahead 46-42 entering the fourth quarter.
The Cougars would not go down without a fight, and battled to out-score Huntley 19-10 to secure a 61-56 first-round victory.
The Cougar offense was led by senior Brandon Horton with 18 points, followed by sophomore Trey Stampfel with 13. Junior Carson West scored 12 points.
Assistant Coach Cory Hansen commended his team for entering the game with a solid game plan and making key shots in the first half. He said the players handled the pressure in the fourth quarter well, and clutch free throws at the end really secured the victory.
Hansen described it as “the biggest win of the year.”
With the win, Columbus advanced to face a very good Roundup team in the semifinals.
The Cougars came out of the gates ready to play, and not only kept with the experienced Panther team, but took advantage of key shots at the end of the first quarter to build a 16-9 lead. In the second quarter, the Panther offense surged, going ahead at about the halfway point and never looking back.
A 30-18 halftime lead for Roundup stretched to a 57-32 victory as Columbus shots stopped falling.
Horton and freshman Weston Mitchum led the Cougars with six points each. Five points a piece were scored by West and senior Kenneth Smith.
Hansen said the team played well in the first quarter, but once the Cougar offense started to struggle, the veteran Roundup team took control of the game.
With the loss, Columbus moved to a loser-out game against Red Lodge on Saturday morning.
The Cougar offense started slow, and Red Lodge took advantage of the opportunity to go up 25-15 by halftime. Columbus fought back in the third quarter, cutting the Red Lodge lead to four points heading into the final quarter. The Rams could not be caught, though, and the Cougars fell 48-40. The loss ended Columbus’ season.
The two Cougar seniors had good performances in their final game – Horton put up 18 points, and Smith scored 14.
Hansen noted that turnovers plagued the Cougars, and Columbus could not recover. He saluted the seniors for all their efforts throughout the season.
Overall, this season was a learning experience, according to Hansen.
He looks forward to the returning players and new players putting in the work during the off-season that will lead to more success next year.