GREAT FALLS — One night after the North Star Knights won a thrilling overtime game over Chester/J-I, they ran into a foe of a different kind. And this foe didn’t need any extra time to move into the Northern C girls championship game.
Thursday night at the Northern C Divisional, inside the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the Knights couldn’t turn a solid first-half performance into anything more as they fell to the top-ranked Belt Huskies 58-38. The loss drops North Star (16-6) into this morning’s loser-out game where the Knights will face 10C rival Dutton-Brady, a squad they beat back in December.
North Star played well early on, especially in the second quarter, after the Huskies (20-1) got off to a fast start. Behind baskets from Hannah and Maggie Croff, Belt jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead. But the Knights closed the first quarter with buckets from Tylynn Rettig and Graysen Spicher, and trailed just 14-8.
North Star also made up another big deficit in the second period, and trailed the defending state champion Huskies just 25-21 at intermission. The Knights fell behind 22-12 in the second stanza, but two straight scores from Kiera Miller and a 3-pointer by Tylynn Rettig at the end of the half gave the Knights hope after the first 16 minutes.
“We liked where we were at at halftime,” North Star head coach Griff Bye said. “I really liked our effort. We stayed aggressive and we got good shots.”
But it wasn’t meant to be. Belt went on an 8-0 run in the third period and led 37-28, then the Huskies finished the Knights off with a 12-2 spurt in the fourth stanza, stretching their lead to as much as 23 points before game’s end.
Shooting turned out to be a big difference in the second half as Belt shot 58 percent in the final 16 minutes while the Knights, who made just one three to Belt’s seven on the night, shot 23 percent in the second half.
“We just didn’t make enough shots in the second half,” Bye said. “To stay with Belt, you need shots to drop and we didn’t make enough of them. They (Huskies) are a really good team and they just keep coming at you with their pressure on both ends.”
Rettig, Miller and Lisa Carlon each scored eight points for the Knights, while Hannah Croff led all scorers with 17 points. The Huskies are now on their way to another Northern C championship game, while, despite Thursday night’s setback, the Knights still have plenty to play for.
“We’re already focused on Dutton-Brady,” Bye said. “We feel good about that matchup, and right now we’re excited. We really control our own destiny in this tournament.”
Rams get by Beeters
As rough a time as North Star had in the second half of its semifinal game Thursday night, the opposite happened to the Chinook Sugarbeeters.
In the second Northern C girls semifinal at the Four Seasons Arena, the Beeters got off to a horrific start, and their fate seemed to be doomed in a 43-36 loss to the Winnett-Grass Range Rams. Chinook scored just eight points in the first half Thursday night, in a loss which dropped the Beeters into today’s loser-out game against rival Chester/J-I.
“We only really played hard for about six of the 32 minutes tonight,” Chinook head coach Charlie Robinson said. “We didn’t have any sense of urgency tonight, and against good teams at this tournament, you can’t play as poorly as we did at times.
“And it’s disappointing,” he added. “Because I felt like we had a very good chance to win this game. But in the first half, we just made too many mistakes on both ends of the floor and we fell too far behind.”
The Beeters did indeed fall behind a Rams’ team known for smothering their opponents on the defensive end.
In the first quarter, W-G-R outscored the Beeters 9-4 with only Alana Smith scoring for Chinook. The Rams’ full-court press continued to hound Chinook in the second quarter, while the Beeters struggled to contain Kaylyn Delaney, who scored 14 of her 19 points in the first 16 minutes as W-G-R built up a 19-8 halftime lead.
Chinook did try to respond in the second half, and when Emily Dennis knocked in a 3-pointer with 1:42 to play, the Beeters were within four points at 36-32. From there however, the Rams put the Beeters away with a 6-0 run.
Dennis led the Beeters (18-4) with seven points, while Katelyn Neibauer added six. W-G-R, which plays Belt in tonight’s championship game, got 19 from Delaney, while Chinook did hold Rams’ star Martha Dembek to just seven points. The Rams did force the Beeters into a whopping 26 turnovers and they out-rebounded Chinook 31-18.
Chinook will now look to keep its season alive against C/J-I. The Hawks won Thursday morning in dramatic fashion when they beat Roy-Winifred 51-50 in overtime. The Hawk’s second overtime game in as many days came down to a game-winning shot by Brittnee Theel at the buzzer in overtime. Theel’s heroic shot came just seconds after the Outlaws had gone ahead by one point, leaving C/J-I just four seconds on the clock. In the win, the Hawks (19-3) got 19 points from Kate Graff and 14 by Haley Harmon.
“We will have to come out ready to play against the Hawks,” Robinson said. “We split with them during the regular season and we know it’s going to be a tough game. This tournament isn’t over for us. We just have to come back ready to play better tomorrow.”
Today’s game between the Hawks and Beeters tips off at 12:30. The winner of that game meets the winner of North Star and Dutton-Brady in tonight’s consolation game at 7. Belt and Winnett-Grass Range will play for the Northern C title tonight at 8:30.
Belt 58, North Star 38 (sf)
North Star 8 13 7 10 — 38
Belt 14 11 12 21 — 58
North Star — Lisa Carlon 8, Graysen Spicher 2, Tylynn Rettig 8, Bettie Carlon 6, Alissa Borlaug 4, Whitney Wendland 2, Kiera Miller 8. Totals: 18-46 1-5 38.
Belt — Kara Gerke 6, Lea Gondeiro 3, Markie Muretta 3, Hannah Croff 17, Katie Fetterer 8, Kelley McCafferty 5, Josie Stinson 2, Maggie Croff 14. Totals: 23-47 5-12 58.
Halftime: Belt 25-21. 3-pointers: North Star 7-20 (Muretta 1, H. Croff 2, Fetterer 1, McCafferty 1, M. Croff 2). Rebounds: North Star 28 (L. Carlon 2), Belt 28 (Fetterer 5). Fouls: North Star 15, Belt 13. Fouled out: None.
Winnett-Grass Range 43, Chinook 36 (sf)
W-G-R 9 10 11 13 — 43
Chinook 4 4 11 17 — 36
W-G-R — Holly Matovich 1, Martha Dembek 7, Angie Murnion 9, Jamie Stahl 3, Pari Iverson 4, Kaylyn Delaney 19. Totals: 16-44 11-18 43.
Chinook — Brooke Nicholson 2, Emily Dennis 7, Hannah Weber 2, Makhayla Farmer 9, Katelyn Neibauer 6, Alana Smith 6, Tavin Schneider 4. Totals: 12-28 11-15 36.
Halftime: W-G-R 19-8. 3-pointers: W-G-R 0-5, Chinook 1-3 (Dennis 1). Rebounds: W-G-R 31 (Delaney 6), Chinook 18 (Farmer 5). Fouls: W-G-R 10, Chinook 13. Fouled out: None.
Chester/J-I 51 Roy-Winifred 50 (ot/lo)
R-W 10 11 5 14 10 — 50
C/J-I 6 15 9 10 11 — 51
Roy-Winifred — Shelby Smith 11, Randi Wichman 2, Arky Knerr 2, Danae McClure 6, Danyce McClure 29. Totals 16 13-14
C/J-I — Haley Harman 14, Denerey Haaland 4, Brittnee Theel 11, Erin Wolfe 1, Kate Graff 19, Brittany Whitley 2. Totals 11 25-33.
Halftime: C/J-I 23-21. 3-pointers: C/J-I 4-8 (Harmon 2, Graff 2), R-W 5-17 (Smith 1, Berg 3, McClure 2). Rebounds: C/J-I 18 (Graff 6), R-W 32 (McClure 9). Fouls: C/J-I 12, R-W 19. Fouled out: Wichman.