Big Sandy Pioneers and Chinook Sugarbeeters have a long history in 9C girls basketball. They have ran into each other countless times over the years, and did so again in the 9C semifinals.
But in the latest run-in, the Beeters advanced, while the Pioneers will fight to survive in the loser-out bracket. Chinook defeated the Pioneers 58-41 Thursday night at the Havre High gymnasium in Havre in a District 9C girls semifinal, and with the win the Beeters will play Box Elder Saturday at 6 p.m. in the championship game. The Pioneers will face Hays-Lodge Pole today at 4:30 p.m. in the consolation semis.
“It feels pretty good to get this win,” Chinook’s Makhayla Farmer said. “We really needed this one, and we all played well, so it was just a good win. We are really excited to be in the championship game, and it is what we have been working for all year long.”
The Beeters took the 11-6 lead after the first quarter, and were in control all they way through. Farmer played a key role in that, finishing the game with 18 points and eight rebounds. Taryn Norby also pitched in 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Madison McCann came off the bench late in the game and finished with seven impressive points.
“I just stepped up and relied on my teammates to help me out and tell me where to go,” Farmer said. “We played as a team and I was able to get open down low and they found me.
“I think a big key tonight was our bench play,” Chinook head coach Charlie Robinson added. “We got in foul trouble early and Madison McCann had a great effort for us coming off the bench. Our whole bench played well, but McCann really came in and locked down Molly Herron on defense, got a couple buckets, couple of assists and a couple of free throws.”
The Pioneers weren’t in their element Thursday night.
The Beeter’s defense played a solid man-to-man and forced the Pioneers to shoot a lot of shots they probably didn’t want to take. From three-point range the Pioneers were 2-of-16, and from the field they 14-of-49 as they tried to shoot over the tough defensive pressure.
The sound defense by the Beeters played into their game plan. The extended possessions by the Pioneers and the tough shot choices helped take precious second off the clock in a game where the Beeters were playing patient basketball to do the same.
“We had a rough couple of weeks,” Robinson said. “But we got over that with two good games at the end, and we really battled at the end of the season to play well and we did. Overall I thought it was a really good victory for us, they are a really good team. We made them backup and take an extra dribble, and that benefited us as he tried to run time off the clock and maintain our lead.”
The Pioneers were led Molly Herron and Matelia Cline, as they both finished with 11 points each. It was a valiant effort, but Big Sandy just couldn’t overcome a 32-14 halftime deficit. The Pioneers did outscore the Beeters 27-26 in the second half, but were too little too late.
Now heading into the championship game against the Box Elder Bears, the Beeters have an even tougher task at hand. The Bears have an outstanding season thus far, and are looking to revenge their championship loss to the Beeters last season.
“We are going to do whatever we can to play a good game against Box Elder.” Robinson said. “I think we have to match their intensity level, we are almost mirror teams of each other. We just have to make sure we play ball the way it is conducive for us to win. I think we can run with them but we can also slow down with them, we will just take what we can get and helps us win.”
The Beeters and Pioneers will tip off on Saturday at 6 p.m., while the Thunderbirds and Pioneers will tip off today at 4:30 p.m in the only girls loser-out game.
Chinook 58, Big Sandy 41
Big Sandy 6 8 16 11 — 41
Chinook 11 21 10 16 — 58
Big Sandy — Brooke Leader 8, Molly Herron 11, Leela Engle 5, Katie Owen 2, Shanya Gilead 2, Abby Gregory 2, Matella Cline 11. Totals: 14 11-23.
Chinook — Alana Smith 4, Haley Swank 6, Taryn Norby 12, Emily Dennis 6, Makhayla Farmer 18, Kayla Hanson 5, Madison McCann 7. Totals: 23 11-16.
Total fouls — BS 19, Chinook 22. Fouled out — Leader, Hanson. 3-pointers — Herron, Cline, Swank.