Havre Daily News sports editor
Nobody gave the Box Elder Bears girls basketball team much of a chance heading into the opening round of the 2006 District 9C girls basketball tournament.
But on Tuesday afternoon at the Havre High gymnasium, the seventh-seeded Bears played like they were every bit as good as any other team in the field.
The shorthanded Bears, who only dressed six players, gave second-seeded North Star all it could handle, but fell short, as the Knights prevailed 58-43.
Early on, it appeared the Knights were poised to turn the game into the laugher many people expected. The Knights jumped out to an 8-0 lead behind the hot 3-point shooting of Megan Warren. Box Elder started slowly, as the Bears didn't score until the 4:08 mark of the first period on two free throws by Ariel Wolf Chief.
In fact, things were so bad for the Bears that they made their first field goal with only two minutes remaining in the first quarter, when Latasha Wolfchild finally ended the drought. By the time the first eight minutes of the game were in the books, the Knights held a commanding 16-6 lead.
The second quarter was much of the same. North Star went on an 11-0 run, mainly on inside baskets from Tasha Dyrland, as the Knights led 26-12 at halftime.
“I thought we played really well early,” North Star head coach Brian Campbell said. “We jumped all over them offensively and that is what we were supposed to do. Playing well early turned out to be important because Box Elder played really well in the second half.”
The third quarter started off just like the first half had gone for the Bears. The Knights scored six straight points to open the half, as Jodi Norman began to heat up from the outside.
Momentum slowly began to turn.
North Star got out of sync offensively and the Bears began to claw away at the lead. Midway through the third period, Box Elder went on a 11-0 run to pull back to within nine points. Box Elder sophomore Rokki Parker finally found her inside game, and when she got herself going, so did the Bears.
In the fourth quarter Box Elder hung tough and several times cut the lead to 10 points. But, turnovers and foul trouble thwarted Box Elder's chances of making a serious comeback.
Parker fouled out with two minutes left in the game and her team down 11 points. Once she departed, Box Elder never scored again.
“I don't think we played as well as we could have in the second half,” Campbell said. “We just weren't executing offensively like we were early on.
“But a lot of that was also because Box Elder really picked it up on the defensive end of the floor. They played very hard in the second half.”
Dyrland led all scorers with a game-high 18 points. She also yanked down nine rebounds and had a blocked shot. Norman added 17 points and Warren finished with 10.
Despite playing most of the way in foul trouble, Parker paced the Bears with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Still, Campbell was pleased with the defensive job that Dyrland did on the all-conference-caliber Parker.
“Tasha played well tonight offensively. We got her a lot of touches in the paint,” Campbell said. “But she did a great job on the defensive end of the floor. Rokki is a very good post player and I thought Tasha made her work hard for everything she got. Rokki has had much more productive games against us in the past.”
Aside from Parker's 12 points, the Bears got 10 points from Wolf Chief and nine from Wolfchild. Tasha Parisian chipped in with eight points in the losing effort.
With the loss, Box Elder slips to tonight's loser-out game, where it will face Turner at 8:30. Meanwhile, the Knights will move on to Thursday night's semifinal against Rocky Boy.
“Overall I am pretty pleased with how we played,” Campbell said. “There are things we need to do better, and we know this next game will be very, very tough.”
Knights 59, Bears 43
Box Elder 4 8 16 15 - 43
North Star 14 11 19 15 - 59
Box Elder - Rokki Parker 12, Sharlene Yellowtail 4, Tasha Parisian 8, Latasha Wolfchild 9, Arielle Wolf Chief 10. Totals: 17 9-11 43.
North Star - Maia Aageson 5, Tasha Dyrland 18, Megan Warren 10, Allison Grant 5, Jodi Norman 17, Jourdan Han 1, Courtney Wendland 3. Totals: 19 9-19 59.
3-pointers - Box Elder 0, North Star 4 (Dyrland 1, Warren 2, Grant 1); Total fouls - Box Elder 15, North Star 14; Fouled out - Parker.