By Ryan Divish
While the District 9C tournament's consolation game would ultimately be the final game for the Blue Sky Eagles' splendid group of seniors, it was a junior and a sophomore who showed why the Eagles have high hopes for next season.
Junior Lindsay Anderson scored 18 points and sophomore Kaila Warren added 15 to lead Blue Sky to a 52-42 win over KG to capture third place. However, by virtue of losing to Box Elder in the semifinals, Blue Sky was unable to challenge Box Elder for a spot at the Northern C Divisional.
"After we lost in the semis, we talked after the game about treating the rest of the tournament like we would play on Monday night," said Blue Sky head coach Liz Olsen. "We wanted to play in a challenge game and we did everything we could, but it was out of our hands."
KG didn't make it easy for Blue Sky. With Eagle center Jessica Patrick playing only a few minutes of the first half because of foul trouble, KG was able to open things up offensively and get scores both inside and outside.
"Having Jessica out affected us because our game plan coming in was to get the ball to her," Olsen said.
The KouGars battled back from deficits of eight and nine points behind the play of seniors Cady Arifin and Emily Stewart. Arifin hit two of her four three-pointers in the first half, including one with 10 seconds remaining in the half to give KG its last lead of the game at 24-23.
However, Blue Sky answered within that 10 seconds as Natalie Strissel found Anderson open for a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to retake the lead, 26-24.
Both teams were sluggish coming out of halftime, but another Anderson three-pointer pushed the lead to 34-29 at the end of the third quarter.
KG answered with a Stewart three-point play and an Arifin putback to get within three at 38-35. But Blue Sky put KG away on consecutive baskets from Jessica Patrick, Heather Wendland and Warren.
Despite Arifin's fourth three-pointer of the game to answer, the KouGars ran out of time and out of gas.
"Playing four games in four days certainly affected us," said KG head coach Heidi Borlaug. "It gets tough and wears on you to keep coming back like that."
Arifin led KG with 16 points while Stewart added 13. The KouGars finished the season with an 8-14 record overall.
"We had a good season," Borlaug said. "We lost one of our best players in Kim Berg before the season even started and battled through injuries, but the girls stayed positive and were fun to work with. I look at the season as a success."
Blue Sky finished its season with a 17-5 record. Although her team didn't go as far as it had hoped, Olsen was still proud of its accomplishments.
"It's frustrating because they knew we could be there at divisionals," Olsen said. "They're a great bunch of girls and we have some fine seniors. We didn't get where we wanted to be but very few teams can say they ended their season with a win."