By Kim Staudinger
The Box Elder Bears are one step closer to the District 9C Championship with a dominating 105-25 win over Hays-Lodgepole Wednesday afternoon at Havre High School.
The win marked the fourth time this season the Bears have scored over 100 points three of those 100-point wins have been against Hays-Lodgepole.
"This was the fourth time we played them," Hays-Lodgepole coach Liz Doud Werk said. "We knew them and knew what they would do. I told them to go out and play with pride and be proud of the jersey we have on."
Unfortunately, what the Bears did was control the Thunderbirds in every aspect of the game. Box Elder held the Thunderbirds to only two baskets in the first quarter, while the Bears scored 36 points on a mixture of easy lay-ups, three-point shots and free throws.
Playing only substitues, including four freshmen, for over the last two minutes of the first quarter and all of the second quarter, Box Elder continued its dominance, mounting a 54-11 halftime lead.
"In the first quarter, we came out scared," Werk said, noting her team did not score for nearly a seven minute span between the first and second quarters. "We have to give credit to Box Elder. They played with us and played fair with us."
"This was a good game to get the nervousness out," Box Elder coach Shiloh Schwab-Hannum said. "This kind of game you want to work on your weaknesses."
Schwab also said she took her starters out early because she didn't want them to get hurt in a game in which her team had such a huge lead.
"When you play your subs, it helps to get them experience, too," she said.
Box Elder's starters started the third quarter, but played in different positions for most of it. Schwab noted she moved Tami Infante to the four position "just to see if she could do it." The Bears' starters only played for a few minutes in the quarter and would not return in the game.
The young group of Box Elder players racked up 29 points in the third quarter, led by freshman duo Rebecca Eagleman and Ann Favel. Eagleman sparkled with three steals, two assists, an easy lay-up and a long three-pointer. Favel grabbed 14 rebounds in the game, most of them coming in the second half, to dominate the game underneath the basket. Favel also scored Box Elder's 100th point of the game with a short jumper near the free-throw line.
"She's only a freshman," Schwab said of Favel. "Things are starting to come together for her at the right time."
The Thunderbirds only score of the quarter came at the 5:05 mark as freshman Jeanette Whiteman sank two free throws. Hays-Lodgepole's scoreless stretch continued until the 3:27 point in the fourth quarter when freshman Colette Hawley fought through the defense to get a right-side jumper to fall.
"We made sure everyone played," Werk said. "I am proud of them because they kept their heads up the whole game."
Hays-Lodgepole seemed to play more relaxed in the fourth quarter, nearly doubling their score with 12 points, nine of which came on three-point shots.
Freshman guard Veronica Moccasin drained two three-point shots, including banking one off the glass with seven seconds left on the clock. Senior Kerry Racine hit the other three-pointer with 32 seconds remaining. Racine's shot, which was taken nearly five feet behind the three-point line, got the Thunderbird crowd excited for one of the first times during the game.
With the loss, the Thunderbirds face elimination tonight at 7:30, facing the Turner Tornadoes. Werk said the key to the game will be stopping Britney Jones.
"If we can stop her and keep them off the free-throw line, we'll be OK," she said, noting both previous losses were lost at the charity stripe. "Turner hustles very well. We need to pick up our hustle and play good defense on them. If we do that, it will be a good game."
Meanwhile, Box Elder advances to the semi-finals and will take on Blue Sky Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"We're just taking it one game at a time," Schwab said.
Hays-Lodgepole Colette Hawley 5, Clarissa Crochan 5, Jean Whitecow 2, Jeanette Whiteman 4, Veronica Moccasin 6, Kerry Racine 3.
Box Elder Brandi Lawrence 13, Tami Infante 15, Ray-lyn Shambo 11, Kristie Pullin 10, Ann Favel 9, Rebecca Eagleman 15, Chassidy Parisian 6, Tasheena Duran 5, Gerri Eagleman 8, Lindsey Harris 13.