By Kim Staudinger
The Big Sandy Lady Pioneers' dominance continued Thursday night at the Havre High gym, taking first-round opponent Dutton/Brady and making the DiamondBacks team look like the tournament sparring partner.
Big Sandy, which held the DiamondBacks scoreless in the fourth quarter, breezed to an easy 89-23 win.
The Pioneers' press spelled disaster for Dutton/Brady early as turnovers were more frequent for the DiamondBacks than were baskets. Just 30 seconds into the game, the Big Sandy press caused a 10-second call as Dutton/Brady was unable to find an open teammate the start of the downfall for Dutton/Brady.
Big Sandy went on a 14-0 run before sophomore Missy Wells made the first of two free throws to put the DiamondBacks on the board. Big Sandy scored nine more points before Dutton/Brady scored its second point, again coming on a free throw.
Junior Laura Copenhaver scored the only basket of the quarter with 1:25 remaining, hitting a 10-foot jump shot. The next score came when Big Sandy's Amy Silvan grabbed a steal and drove home the effortless lay-in at the one minute mark, racking up her ninth point of the first quarter. Silvan led all scorers with 18 points on the game.
Junior guard Linda Givens kept the early rout going with a three-pointer from the left side of the court, giving Big Sandy a 31-4 lead going into the second quarter.
While the second quarter was more evenly matched with scoring (a 19-12 advantage for Big Sandy), the Pioneers took a 50-16 lead into the half, putting the game completely out of reach for the DiamondBacks and allowing Big Sandy coach Roy Lackner to look ahead and prepare for tonight's game against Belt.
"I am anxious to see how we play against a man-to-man defense," he said. "Our defense creates a lot of opportunities for our offense, so it won't be just going up against a man-to-man defense. It will be a pretty good matchup. They have won a lot of games and so have we."
Lackner said that while it would be nice to be able to look ahead to playing in Saturday night's divisional championship game, Belt can be a very dangerous team that could give Big Sandy its biggest challenge yet.
"We must contain (Laura) Keaster," he said. "They have a couple of good shooters and they beat Box Elder twice, so you know they are good."
Even though they had an insurmountable lead, the Pioneers came out in the second half and played as if the game were tied.
"We hustle really hard and it makes a difference," Lackner said.
Nine Pioneer points and three minutes later into the third, Copenhaver broke the scoring run, getting "three points the old-fashioned way," as game announcer Bob Way put it, with a basket and a foul.
But that was all the motivation Big Sandy needed to pour on the pressure and not allow the DiamondBacks to score for the next two minutes of play. Dutton/Brady scored two more baskets in the quarter and failed to score in the fourth, allowing the Pioneers to cruise into the semifinal round.
Even though his team came away with the big win, Lackner, as he always does, saw room for improvement on his team.
"I wasn't happy with our fouls and outside shooting," he said. "We need to play a little smarter defense and not give up the fouls we did today. I cant stand reaching fouls."
Big Sandy Amy Silvan 18, Katherine Bitz 9, Sheena Darlington 12, Lindsey Danreuther 11, Ashley Goodian 15, Carley Squires 5, Haley Grubb 1, Linda Givens 16, Morgan Louvar 2.