Pioneers drub North Star in Monday night 9C challenge game, move on to Northern C
Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Even though the Big Sandy girls basketball team still needed a win over North Star to secure a berth in the Northern C Divisional tournament, the outcome seem almost predetermined. The Pioneers erased any doubts about their team with an impressive 64-41 victory in a District 9C challenge game Monday night at the HHS gymnasium. The win over North Star not only gave Big Sandy second place in the 9C tournament, but a return ticket to the Northern C tourney this week in Great Falls. “Well, we were able to keep our streak alive,” Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner said. “Every year since I have been coaching here we have made it to the divisional tournament, and we did it again this year.” Big Sandy was brilliant from start to finish, jumping out to an 11-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. From there, the Pioneers never looked back. By halftime, the lead had ballooned to 30-14 and the rout was on. The Pioneers controlled the game on both ends of the floor by getting a number of easy transition baskets and putting the clamps down defensively on the Knights’ star players Natasha Dyrland and Megan Warren. Warren managed 16 points on the night, but was held to just 5-of-14 shooting from the field, including 4- of-12 from the 3-point-line. In addition, Dyrland, who is the top post player in the 9C, was held to a just 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting. “I think that you must contain Natasha Dyrland and Megan Warren if you want to beat them,” Lackner said. “So out of respect for both of those players we used a diamondand- one to defend them and we were able to take them out of what they wanted to do offensively.” Big Sandy used a balanced scoring effort to down the Knights, getting a team-high 14 points as well as six rebounds from sophomore Laci Keller. Jessica Amsbaugh nailed two treys on her way to 12 points and Shalayna Pearson also contributed with 12 points and seven boards. “I think that you have to give all the credit to Big Sandy,” North Star head coach Brian Campbell said. “It’s tough to turn around and play a game like this, after losing like Big Sandy did on Saturday. But they were ready to go. They were aggressive and they just made more shots than we did. “I thought we did a pretty good job of getting the ball to Natasha and Megan, but if you have two people guarding you when you catch the ball it’s kind of hard to get into a rhythm,” he added. “We got a lot of good looks at the basket and we just couldn’t get anything to fall. They shot the ball much better than we did and that turned out to be the difference. But they are a really good team and I think both Big Sandy and Rocky Boy will do a great job of representing the 9C.” Big Sandy cemented the game in the third quarter. The Pioneers grabbed a 41-22 lead after a basket by Morgan Darlington, and they took a 43-26 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Knights never threatened in the final stanza, getting behind by as many as 30 points after a 3-pointer by Josi Herron with 2:28 to go put the Pioneers ahead 62-32. The victory means that the Pioneers will advance to the Northern C divisional tournament in Great Falls at the Four Season Arena, where they are the defending champions. The Northern C tournament will get under way on Wednesday and Big Sandy will face off against District 10C champion Valier in the opening round of the tournament at 1 p.m. “I think that we are going to have a shot at it,” Lackner said. “We are not world beaters and there are going to be some good teams there, but we are a pretty good team too. “The first thing you have to do to win the championship is get in the tournament,” he added. “And we are in the tournament. It doesn’t matter how you got there, just as long as you get in. That’s all that matters.