By Rob Everingham
The District 9-C girls' basketball tournament got under way Thursday, and the Rocky Boy Morning Stars accomplished a feat they had not done all season. They downed Blue Sky 61-56 to open the tournament.
In the second game, the Box Elder Bears kept their tournament-winning going as they downed Hays-Lodgepole 69-31 to sew up the night game.
In the first game, No. 5 Rocky Boy upset No. 4 Blue Sky, 61-56. The Eagles had won the two regular-season matchups between the two teams.
Rocky Boy had a rough start as the Eagles flew out to a 7-4 lead. Two baskets in the final two minutes of the first quarter lifted Blue Sky to an 11-6 lead.
In the second quarter, the Eagles led until Rocky Boy's Natasha Stump tied the game at 14-14, and then Farrah Small hit a 3-pointer giving the Stars their first lead.
The Eagles responded with a 9-0 run to go up 23-17, but the Morning Stars fought back to tie the game at 23-23.
With :10 on the clock, Blue Sky's Katie Spicher hit a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 26-23 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the two teams battled back and forth, but, with a pair of back-to-back buckets by the Morning Stars, they lifted themselves to a 40-38 lead after three.
Blue Sky opened the fourth quarter on fire and went on a 5-2 run to regain the lead. Rocky Boy answered with its own 6-0 run.
The Eagles fought their way back into the game and led 51-50 with 2:45 left. This would be the last time the Eagles would lead, as Rocky Boy controlled the tempo and went on a 5-2 run in the last minute of the game to seal the win.
Stump led the way for the Morning Stars with a game-high 20 points. The Eagles were led by Cassidy Han, who had 12 points.
Rocky Boy head coach Martin Parker said they came out a little slow, but they were able to get their offense working and only take high percentage shots.
Parker said this win is huge for the program and school. The Morning Stars' goal this season was to make it to Saturday evening and play, and this was a big step toward that point.
The Morning Stars get the task of taking on No. 1-ranked Big Sandy Friday. Parker said he hopes his team can take the momentum from them and play respectable against the Pioneers.
"Rocky Boy came prepared and we didn't," said Blue Sky head coach Darrin Hannum.
Hannum said his team was not mentally prepared, and missed too many freethrows and did not block out well.
It was the fundamentals of the game that killed his team, Hannum said. He said they gave up too many offensive boards and too many easy layups.
Hannum said he hopes his team can rebound from the loss and work its way back to Saturday night.
In game two, Box Elder took the 69-31 win from the Hays-Lodgepole Thunderbirds.
The Bears opened up big and led 6-0 with 6:48 left. Box Elder's defense was unrelenting as it went on a 13-0 run to finish out the first quarter and lead 23-5.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second quarter before the Bears went on a 10-0 run. Box Elder kept the pressure defense on and led 47-11 at the half.
In the third quarter, the T-Birds played tough, but the Bears had built too big of a lead.
Again in the fourth, Hays-Lodgepole played well, but Box Elder held on for the win.
The Bears were led by Sommer Rosette, who had 14 points. Chelsey Kirkaldie led the T-Birds with 17 points.
vHays-Lodgepole coach Mikkie Grant said they could not get things together in the first part of the game. Grant said her team came out nervous.
One positive, Grant said, was that her bench played very well.
Grant said she hopes on Saturday morning her team will be able to come out not as nervous and will be able to do something.
Box Elder head coach Mark Irvin said this was the first time in the last six games that they have had everyone healthy. Irvin said his team came together nicely.
"Everybody played well," Irvin said.
Irvin said he was glad they were able to jump out quickly so that he could play some of his younger athletes and rest his starters for the big game tonight.
The Bears face second-seeded KG tonight. The KouGars won both regular-season games, but by just four points both times. Irvin said he hopes they can take the momentum and play the KouGars tough.
Friday, the first game will match Big Sandy against Rocky Boy starting at 6:00 p.m. The second game starting around 7:30 p.m. will be KG against Box Elder, both at the Havre High School gymanasium.