Last year, the Chinook girls basketball team got on a tremendous role. The Beeters won the District 9C championship and came within a game of getting to the Class C state tournament at the Northern C Divisional.
However, in order to get back to Great Falls this week, the Beeters had to stop another team on a roll in a Monday night challenge game in Havre. And Chinook did just that.
Monday night at the Havre High gymnasium, Chinook earned the 9C’s second berth into the divisional tournament by fending off the red-hot North Star Knights 57-41. The win officially gave Chinook the second-place trophy. The Beeters lost a heartbreaker to Box Elder in Saturday night’s championship game.
“North Star came in and played us very hard,” Chinook head coach Charlie Robinson, who has the Beeters in back-to-back Northern C’s after Chinook had gone the previous 12 years without making a divisional tourney said. “Those kids have a lot of quickness and they play with a lot of heart.
“But I thought we too played well,” he added. “We had a few moments where we went away from the game plan, but for the most part, we controlled the game the way we wanted to.”
Chinook took control right from the start, and the Beeters needed to give the roll the Knights had been on. North Star had won two of its last three tourney games after only winning one conference game all season.
But Monday night quickly belonged to Chinook, which jumped out to a 9-2 lead behind six points from Makhayla Farmer. The Knights closed the first quarter on a Taylor Warren 3-pointer, but Chinook took full command in the second stanza.
The Beeters finished the first half on a 15-0 run, as Alana Smith and Taryn Norby each scored six points in the quarter, while the Chinook defense stifled the Knights, who scored just four points in the period. By the time the dust settled on the first half, Chinook had a commanding 33-11 lead – a lead the Beeters would never relinquish.
“They (Knights) have us on quickness,” Robinson said. “But we have them pretty good on size and I think that played to our advantage. I also think we really controlled the tempo and played the game at the pace we wanted to, which was good.”
Though the Knights outscored the Beeters 30-24 in the second half, the game was never in doubt. North Star did play hard right to the very end, just as the Knights have done for the entire tournament. North Star made a great run this past five days in Havre, and in the final game of the Knights’ season, Warren led the way with a game-high 16 points. Warren hit two three’s, while Tylynn Rettig chipped in with eight points. In her final game of a brilliant career, Shelby Lipp recorded yet another double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Lipp has led the 9C tournament in rebounding in each of the last three years.
But as great a week as the Knights had, Monday night belonged to the Beeters, who’s only down moment came when senior Taryn Norby went down with a possible knee injury in the fourth quarter. Norby, who was held to six points by the Knights, was in a lot of pain when she left the game, but hopefully will be ready to go for the Northern C. Farmer paced the Beeters with 14 points and Smith scored 13. Emily Dennis had a strong game as well for Chinook (15-6), scoring eight points.
Now, the Beeters are headed back to the Northern C where they’ll face 8C champion Belt at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. In the other 9C-8C matchup, Box Elder will take on Geraldine at 4 p.m. Thursday in Great Falls.
“We’re excited and happy to be going back to divisionals,” Robinson said. “The road was a little tougher this year. But we’re back in it and that’s all that matters.
“It looks like it’s going to be the same teams pretty much as last year,” he added. “And we played those teams tough in that tournament. So we have as good a chance as anyone.”
Chinook 57, North Star 41
North Star 7 4 10 20 — 41
Chinook 13 20 13 11 — 57
North Star — Machenzie Hansen 2, Lisa Carlon 3, Taylor Warren 16, Tylynn Rettig 8, Shelby Lipp 12.
Chinook — Talya Johnson 5, Alana Smith 13, Haley Swank 4, Taryn Norby 6, Emily Dennis 8, Brook Skoyen 1, Makhayla Farmer 14, Kayla Hanson 4, Tavin Schneider 2.