By Kim Staudinger
After suffering a disappointing loss to Belt the night before, Big Sandy was forced to battle back through the loser's bracket to have any hopes of making a trip to the state tournament.
But Big Sandy wasn't the only team who lost an emotional game Friday night the Box Elder Bears did too, falling to eventual divisional champions, Chester 72-58.
Both teams came into the tournament with high hopes and showed their refusal to lose in Saturday morning's loser-out games, setting up a rematch of the District 9C championship game.
Big Sandy cruised to a 76-33 win over Winifred in the morning game, while Box Elder defeated Grass Range 49-36.
The 9C championship game two weekends ago was perhaps too close for comfort for the Pioneers, and, not wanting a repeat of that game, Big Sandy charged to a 69-43 win over Box Elder to come away with the third-place trophy.
Big Sandy came ready to play, not seeming at all wary from the morning game and proved early on why they should have been playing in the championship game. Amy Silvan, playing in her last game for the Pioneers, drained a three-pointer from the left side, showing to all that the flat shooting from Friday's game would not carry over to Saturday.
Silvan, who missed last year's state tournament due to a tumor, led all scorers with 26 points, capping a great career at Big Sandy High School.
After a left-handed lay-up by Sheena Darlington, the Pioneers took a 5-0 lead, but Box Elder answered with two straight baskets, cutting the lead to 5-4.
Both teams responded to the other's made baskets, but a huge 28-foot three-pointer by Silvan as time expired in the first quarter, gave Big Sandy a 19-8 lead and all the momentum they would need going into the second quarter.
Big Sandy's dominance from beyond three-point range continued, hitting six more in the second quarter, creating a 40-18 lead at the half. The Pioneers drained 12 three-pointers on the game, nearly as many as the 15 field goals they also made. Silvan and Ashley Goodian each sank four three-pointers.
Hoping to take advantage of the break at the half, Box Elder needed to battle back in the third. But the energy was exhausted as the only point they would score in the quarter came on a free throw by Josie Rosette. The Bears had their chances, as Big Sandy only scored 10 points in the quarter.
Box Elder also outscored the Pioneers 24-19 in the final eight minutes of play, but the deficit was too much to overcome as the Bears' season ended with a fourth-place finish.
Box Elder, a surprise to some in the tournament, nearly pulled off another tournament upset with a near defeat at the hands of Chester, 72-58.
The Bears led the game by one after the first quarter and only trailed by three going into the half. But the Chester lead slowly grew, increasing to six after three quarters of play.
The aggressiveness of Box Elder may have caught up to them late in the game, as Ray-lyn Shambo fouled out with three minutes left in the third quarter and three other players playing most of the fourth quarter with four fouls.
The disadvantage for Box Elder worked to Chester's advantage. Knowing Box Elder could not afford to foul, the Coyotes began to stall with just under seven minutes to play in the game.
Chester made 8-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter to come away with the win and advance to the title game.