By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
On Tuesday night at the Havre High gymnasium, the Blue Sky/J-I Eagles veteran-filled team showed what being prepared to play really looks like as they rolled over the Box Elder Bears in the opening round of the 2004 District 9C girls basketball tournament.
The Eagles jumped out early and sustained a torrid shooting pace, all the while holding off two valiant Box Elder runs en route to a 58-44 win and earning a date in Thursday night's semifinal round.
"I think the fact that we have so many experienced players really helped us tonight," said Eagle head coach Elizabeth Campbell. "Most of the girls have played in a lot of tournament games, and they know what its like. They didn't have any first night jitters and we got off to a really good start."
Indeed, The Eagles raced out to an early 13-4 lead behind the strong inside play of seniors Kimberli and Kile Patrick. By the end of the first period the Eagles were up 19-10 and cruising.
However, Box Elder's talented freshman Rokki Parker was also a force on the inside. She got the Bears back into the game by sparking a 9-0 run that was capped off by a Rebecca Eagleman 3-pointer. Eagleman's trey came at the middle of the second quarter and it pulled the Bears to within two points at 21-19.
The two point deficit however, would be as close as Box Elder would get the rest of the night. Kaila Warren and Maia Aageson answered Box Elder's run with back-to-back 3-pointers and propelled the Eagles to a 31-24 halftime lead.
"I thought we played really well in the first half," Campbell said. "Box Elder got their offense going in the second quarter, but I think our pressure and defensive intensity helped us a lot tonight."
Despite leading by just seven points at intermission, the Eagles had a firm grasp on the game and they put the contest out of reach by the end of the third quarter.
The Bears were able to keep the Blue Sky/J-I lead within single digits for most of the period. But when Kile Patrick put back a missed layup at the 3:07 mark it once again got the Eagles off and running. Blue Sky/J-I closed the period on a 9-0 run that was capped off by another Warren 3-pointer. The run gave the Eagles a commanding 48-34 lead and they cruised home in the fourth period.
The Eagles were very balanced on the night with Kile Patrick leading the way. She scored a game-high 14 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. Kaila Warren and Maia Aageson both chipped in with 10 points each and Megan Warren added nine points. Parker and Rebecca Eagleman paced the Bears with 13 points a piece.
The win over Box Elder advances Blue Sky/J-I into the semifinal round where they will meet second seeded Big Sandy on Thursday at 7 p.m.
"I like how we played tonight," Campbell said. "We came out and we were very aggressive right away. We will have to play that way against Big Sandy and I think it will be a pretty close game."
The Bears will now drop into the loser-out bracket where they will face the KG KouGars tonight at 7 p.m.
Blue Sky/J-I 58, Box Elder 44
Blue Sky/J-I 19 12 17 10 - 58
Box Elder 10 14 10 10 - 44
Blue Sky/J-I - Kaila Warren 10, Allison Grant 3, Kimberli Patrick 6, Cortney Wendland 4, Megan Warren 4, Kile Patrick 14.
Box Elder - Rokki Parker 13, Tasha Parisian 2, Gerri Eagleman 7, Sharlene Yellow Tail 2, Rebecca Eagleman 13, Helen Russette 1, Ashley Parisian 2, Loni LaMere 4.
Total Fouls - Blue Sky/J-I 14, Box Elder 12. Fouled out - none. 3-pointers - G. Eagleman, R. Eagleman, K. Warren 2 , M. Aageson.