Husky girls head to state
The scrappy Absarokee Huskies clawed their way to a second-place finish at the Southern C divisional tournament last weekend, earning them a place at the state Class C girls tournament in Great Falls on March 10-12.
“We had a great divisional tournament,” Husky head coach Travis Frickel said. “The girls played their hearts out and were determined to let everybody know that we belonged there.”
Seniors Maisey Sheppard and Emma Chandler combined for 37 points to dispatch the Broadus Hawks in the opening round, 55-43.
“It started with one of the No. 1 seeds in the tournament in Broadus,” Frickel said. “Maisey shot the ball really well and carried us offensively. But we had some big contributions from other players like Emma Chandler, Rebecka Lester, Colleen Culbertson and Erin Campbell. We rebounded extremely well and were able to come out with a victory.”
Next up was their cross-valley rival, the Park City Panthers, who took second in the District 6C tournament two weeks earlier. The Huskies, who squeaked through with a fourth-place finish at district, battled to a 54-49 victory and moved on to the championship game. Park City went on to defeat Harlowton but lose to Broadus in the consolation game (see other story).
“We’ve played Park City so much the past few seasons that there are very little secrets between the two teams,” Frickel said. “The girls were not intimidated by their confidence and strong play this season. We played really well against them for long stretches during the two different games this season, so we had our own amount of confidence going into this one.”
Chandler rocked the house with 22 points against the Panthers, while Sheppard added 11 and her sister, freshman Mallorey Sheppard, chipped in nine more.
“Emma was huge for us on both ends of the floor, and Mallorey hit a couple big shots,” Frickel said. “When Katrina Feddes was able to stay on the floor, she was a great presence for us inside defensively, and Maisey was bothering their guards with her on-ball pressure. We were able to weather their seven three-pointers with huge baskets down the stretch. It felt really good for everybody to finally get over the hump and beat them.”
Panther senior Cara Grewell had a strong performance with 22 points, and junior MacKinzie Verke added 14 more, but Park City’s tall forwards were held to low single digits against the Huskies, and senior guard Hailee Gregerson posted only six points.
The championship game featured a solid Broadview-Lavina team – undefeated for the entire season. Chandler posted 14 points for Absarokee while Mallorey Sheppard knocked in 10 more, but the rest of the Husky scoring was flat, and the Pirates took home the crown, 50-39.
“We knew after the morning loser-out games that we had clinched a state tournament appearance for the first time since the ‘95-’96 season for Lady Husky basketball,” Frickel said. “But we still gave Broadview-Lavina a great game. We had the lead at halftime and during the fourth quarter, but we missed a couple key shots that we were able to make against Broadus and Park City. Combine that with the Pirates making 22 out of 24 free throws and we came up short.”
The junior Schott twins accounted for most of the Pirate scoring – Kylie had 18 and Krista had 12.
“I’m so proud of our girls and really happy for the whole Absarokee community,” Frickel said. “These kinds of things can really bring people together, and it feels good for us, as a team, to be a part of that.”
It will be the Huskies versus the Huskies in the opening round of the Class C state tournament at Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls on Thursday, March 10, as Absarokee faces Belt, the No. 1 team from the Northern Division, at 6:30 p.m.
Belt won the state championship three times in the past four years – including a 63-18 walloping of Hinsdale in the 2014 championship game.
“Next up is a matchup with a fantastic program in the Belt Huskies,” Frickel said. “Our basketball program and our entire community are very excited for the opportunity.”
Absarokee 55, Broadus 43
Absarokee 16 13 7 19 – 55
Broadus 8 12 12 11 – 43
Absarokee (14-9): Maisey Sheppard 22, Erin Campbell 2, Colleen Culbertson 6, Emma Chandler 15, Mallorey Sheppard 7, Katrina Feddes 3.
Broadus (16-6): Riley Veis 5, Sage Collins 2, Madison Hansen 8, Amanda Gaskill 13, Heather LaPlant 15.
Absarokee 54, Park City 49
Absarokee 14 21 6 13 – 54
Park City 14 6 14 15 – 49
Absarokee: Maisey Sheppard 11, Erin Campbell 3, Colleen Culbertson 6, Emma Chandler 22, Mallorey Sheppard 9, Rebecka Lester 2, Katrina Feddes 1.
Park City: MacKinzie Verke 14, Tehya Ray 3, Hailee Gregerson 6, Shelby Branstetter 4, Cara Grewell 22.
Broadview-Lavina 50, Absarokee 39
Absarokee 9 13 10 7 – 39
Broadview-Lavina 11 10 13 16 – 50
Absarokee: Maisey Sheppard 3, Erin Campbell 3, Colleen Culbertson 2, Emma Chandler 14, Mallorey Sheppard 10, Rebecka Lester 2, Katrina Feddes 5.
Broadview-Lavina: Brenna Beckett 6, Krista Schott 12, Alexi Payne 6, Chloe Hanser 4, Hope Opie 4, Kylie Schott 18.