By George Ferguson
The Big Sandy Pioneers began their march toward a Northern C divisional crown on Thursday afternoon with a 51-41 win over District 7C Grass Range at the Northern C girls basketball tournament in Lewistown.
The win over Grass Range sets up the much-anticipated showdown between the Pioneers and the Belt Huskies tonight in the semifinals.
In Thursday's opening round, things looked a little shaky for the Pioneers as they fell behind 12-8 after the first period and trailed by one point at 22-21 at the intermission. The teams then played to a 9-9 third quarter before the Pioneers went on a 21-10 run in the fourth stanza to finally pull away from the pesky Rangers.
The Pioneers were paced by Sheena Darlington's game-high 28 points while Lindsey Danreuther and Linda Givens chipped in with seven points apiece. The Rangers got 11 points from Jenni Martin and 10 apiece from Racheal Nelson and Renae Knerr.
Grass Range will now play Sunburst this afternoon in loser-out action while the Pioneers will get a shot at redemption tonight against Belt. Last season the Huskies handed the Pioneers their only loss at the Northern C divisional tourney and prevented them from reaching the state tournament.
The Box Elder Bears also moved into the semifinals of the Northern C tournament with a 40-34 victory over the Valier Panthers. No box scores were sent from the game due to its lateness Thursday night. Box Elder will meet Winifred tonight in semifinal action. The Red Raiders defeated Centerville 39-35 in first-round action.
Tonight's contest between Belt and Big Sandy will tip off at 6:30 p.m. in Lewistown. The game can be heard locally on 560-AM KMON.
The Chinook Sugarbeeters' three-game winning streak came to an end Thursday afternoon as they were drilled by the Fort Benton Longhorns 60-26 in first-round action at the Northeast B divisional tournament in Glasgow.
The Beeters had doubled their season win total at last weekend's District 2B tournament by winning three out of four games to qualify for the divisional tourney. They were the victim of two huge Fort Benton scoring spurts that did them in on Thursday.
After building a 13-4 first quarter lead, the Longhorns exploded for 21 points in the second quarter to build a 20-point halftime lead at 34-14. The Beeters then played Fort Benton even in the third period, but the Longhorns put the game away in the fourth quarter by going on an 18-4 run to seal the game.
The loss to Fort Benton was the third time that the Horns have defeated Chinook this season. In Thursday's contest the Horns were paced by Lindsay Somers' 11 points but they also had three players score eight. The Beeters got eight from Jennifer Baird in the losing effort.
The win moves Fort Benton into tonight's semifinal, where they will face the top-ranked Wolf Point Wolves, while the Beeters move into the loser-out bracket where they will play the Simms Tigers.
The game between Simms and Chinook is scheduled for this afternoon at the Glasgow High Gymnasium. That game can be heard locally on 101.3-F.M. KRYK.