By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
The Hays-Lodge Pole girls basketball team may have had its season come to an end a little sooner than the T-Birds wanted. But they'll gladly take their 9C postseason and a third-place finish at the District 9C tournament.
The T-Birds, behind a game-high 33 points from star center Colette Hawley, knocked off the Blue Sky/J-I Eagles 67-57 in Saturday afternoon's 9C tournament consolation game at the Havre High gymnasium.
The win gave Hays-Lodge Pole an outside shot of qualifying for the Northern C Divisional with a possible challenge game. However, the hopes of extending their season ended when Big Sandy knocked off Rocky Boy in the championship.
Still, the third-place finish was the best a Hays-Lodge Pole girls team has done since 1986.
"I told the girls we took care of what we could take care of," said head coach Rick Adsit said after the game. "The rest is out of our control."
"It still means a lot to us," Hawley said. "We haven't been this far in years"
It wasn't easy for the T-Birds to get into that position against a Blue Sky/J-I squad that had defeated them twice in the regular season.
Despite being double-teamed early and often, the 6-2 Hawley was as dominant as ever. She scored 10 of the T-Birds' first 11 points to give her team an 11-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
With two of their tallest players on the bench in street clothes because of disciplinary reasons, the Eagles had to double team Hawley at any given opportunity.
The constant defensive attention caught up with Hawley in the second quarter, as she was held to just four points. However, her teammates picked up the slack. Senior Sheena Shambo made six of seven free throws and Kelsey Stiffarm added three points.
"They basically had two players guarding Colette and not even guarding Kelsey," Adsit said. "We got her the ball and she scored some big points, but she also helped other players get open shots."
Blue Sky/J-I was still basically matching Hays-Lodge Pole basket-for-basket as Kaila Warren and Maia Aageson combined for 20 first-half points. The Eagles took the lead late in the second quarter, 23-20, on Aageson's 3-pointer from the wing. However, Stiffarm completed a three-point play to tie the game, and Kirkaldie took away Blue Sky/J-I's momentum by sinking a 50-foot heave at the halftime buzzer to give Hays a 26-20 lead.
"We practice that every week," Adsit joked. "It was still a big shot. We were looking at going in down three or tied and instead we go up three. We kept that lead for the third quarter."
Indeed, Blue Sky/J-I could never get closer than three in the quarter, trailing 39-34 going into the fourth quarter.
The T-Birds looked to put the game away in the fourth, as Suzi Kirkaldie scored on a driving basket to give them their biggest lead of the game at 47-39. However, the Eagles trimmed the lead down to 47-44. Warren and Aageson hit a pair of buckets and the T-Birds' frustration got the best of them as Twai Werk was whistled for a technical foul, which led to two more Warren free throws.
Hawley answered with a putback, but she too fell victim to her emotions, getting whistled for a technical foul of her own, which led to two more Warren free throws. Warren added a put back and tough bank shot, and Blue Sky/J-I cut the lead to 52-49. But that's as close as the Eagles would get.
Adsit was clearly not pleased with his team's emotional outburst and called a timeout to calm his team.
"I just told them that they were giving the game away," he said. "They let their emotions get the best of them. I was more disappointed that they didn't realize the situation and how big the game is. It could have cost us, but it didn't. They did a good job of refocusing and playing hard."
The T-Birds also refocused their efforts on getting the ball inside to Hawley, who scored on back-to-back baskets to push the lead back to 56-49.
"If I was open, I wanted the ball," Hawley said. "I felt like if I got good position, I could score whenever I wanted."
A Megan Warren 3-pointer trimmed the lead to 58-54, but Hawley answered with a three-point play off a putback and a breakaway lay-up to ice the game.
Of Hawley's 33 points, more than half came off offensive rebounds. She also had six blocked shots and basically disrupted any shots in the middle.
"Give Colette credit, she really worked hard and hurt us with her offensive rebounds," said Blue Sky/J-I head coach Liz Campbell. "I don't know how many points she got off of putbacks, but it was quite a few. We knew she was going to get her points, we just tried to make sure none of their other players beat us."
"I just tried to stay patient," Hawley said. "I'm used to getting double-teamed, but I knew eventually I would get some open looks."
While their numbers weren't gaudy, the remaining T-Birds contributed enough points to get the win. Shambo had 11 points, Kirkaldie added 10 and Stiffarm chipped in with eight.
"We had everybody contribute in some way," Adsit said. "It was a complete team effort."
Warren finished her solid high school career with 25 points, while Aageson added 12 in the loss.
Campbell was pleased with her team's efforts for the whole weekend, considering its depleted roster.
"The girls showed a lot of heart and determination," Campbell said. "They wanted to win and expected to win and they played hard."
In Friday's loser-out action, Hays-Lodge Pole advanced to the consolation game with a 69-65 win over Box Elder. The trio of Hawley, Shambo and Kirkaldie led the T-Birds, scoring 61 of the T-Birds 69 points. Hawley and Kirkaldie had 22 each, while Shambo added 17. Rebecca Eagleman scored 31 points and Tasha Parisian added 12 in the loss.
Blue Sky/J-I used a 24-point fourth quarter to stave off a pesky Turner Tornado squad for a 56-44 win. Kaila Warren scored a game-high 32 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Ashley Van Voast led Turner with 19 points and Cheryl Cowan added 10 in the loss.
Hays-Lodge Pole 67,
Blue Sky/J-I 57 (3rd)
Blue Sky/J-I 9 14 11 23 - 57
Hays-Lodge Pole 11 15 13 28 - 67
Blue Sky/J-I - Kaila Warren 25, Maia Aageson 12, Kile Patrick 8, Courtney Wendland 3, Megan Warren 9. Totals 21 10-20.
Hays-Lodge Pole - Kelsey Stiffarm 8, Tristan Healy 2, Jean White Cow 1, Suzi Kirkaldie 10, Sheena Shambo 11, Twai Werk 2, Colette Hawley 33. Totals - 25 15-23.
Total Fouls - BS/J-I 20, H-LP 17. Fouled out - Aageson, Patrick, M. Warren. Technical fouls - Hawley, Werk. 3-point goals - Aageson 2, M. Warren 3, Kirkaldie 2.
Friday's loser-out games
Hays-Lodge Pole 69, Box Elder 65 (lo)
Hays-Lodge Pole 22 17 14 16 - 69
Box Elder 12 18 13 22 - 65
Hays-Lodge Pole - Jean White Cow 5, Suzi Kirkaldie 22, Sheena Shambo 17, Twai Werk 1, Deanne Brockie 2, Colette Hawley 22. Totals 24 16-35.
Box Elder - Rokki Parker 8, Tasha Parisian 12, Gerri Eagleman 6, Sharlene Yellowtail 3, Rebecca Eagleman 31, Helen Russette 1, Loni LaMere 4. Totals 21 16-35.
Total fouls - Hays-Lodge Pole 25, Box Elder 29. Fouled out - Shambo, T. Parisian, A. Parisian. Three-point goals - Kirkaldie 2, Shambo 3, T. Parisian 2, Yellowtail, R. Eagleman 4.
Blue Sky/J-I 56, Turner 44 (lo)
Turner 9 13 9 13 - 44
Blue Sky/J-I 12 12 8 24 - 56
Turner - Ashley Van Voast 19, Cheryl Cowan 10, Celeste Hedegaard 2, Krista Chambers 2, Kelsey Klindworth 5, Chelsi Jones 5. Totals - 15 12-20.
Blue Sky/J-I - Kaila Warren 32, Maia Aageson 5, Robyn Schnitzmeier 3, Kimberli Patrick 4, Kile Patrick 8, Kira Fladstol 1, Megan Warren 3. Totals - 18 13-21.
Total fouls - Turner 22, Blue Sky/J-I 21. Fouled out - Cowan, Klindworth. Technical fouls - Grant. 3-point goals - Klindworth 1, Warren 3, Aageson 1, Schnitzmeier 1.