GREAT FALLS — The District 9C champion Chinook girls basketball team had waited all season for its chance at the Belt Huskies.
And the Sugarbeeters got it Friday night.
Playing at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the Huskies defeated the Beeters 44-30 in the Northern C semifinals.
The loss was especially tough since the Beeters looked to be in control of the contest through the first quarter. The Beeters lead started at 2-0 on a Makhayla Famer field goal, and it wasn’t until the 16-6 run by the Huskies in the second quarter that they would overtake the Beeters.
Katie Fertterer scored a layup midway through he second frame, but the Beeters still clung to a 17-15 lead. Chinook missed its next shot and at the 3:09 mark tied the game at 17-17. Farmer did hit another bucket to take the lead back at 19-17, but that was the last time the Beeters would lead in the contest as they trailed 22-21 at the half.
“Our game plan was to get the ball inside early on,” Chinook head coach Charlie Robinson said. “We knew they would help and double team Makhayla (Farmer), which leaves our shooters open on the outside. If we kicked the ball back outside we would have open shots, and we did that early on. All of a sudden we forced some shots or tried to force the ball inside with bad passes. Both of those things contributed to scores on the other end for Belt.”
Chinook couldn’t regain control against a tough Huskies team that allowed just seven points in the third quarter and a dooming two in the fourth quarter by the Beeters.
Fertterer proved to be a handful as she scored a game-high 20 points, adding nine rebounds and five steals as well. The Huskies even forced five straight Chinook turnovers at one point as Belt played a constant up tempo pace all night long.
The Beeters did stay close in the third but Fetterer’s steal and breakaway layup gave Belt a 30-28 lead with 2:55 to play in the third. But the intense defense by the Huskies was the key in keeping the Beeters down late in the game. Chinook committed 23 turnovers.
Free throws, or lack of free throws were also key. Belt was 12-of-23 for 52 percent from the line, while Chinook was a rare 0-for-0.
Farmer led the Beeters with her 12 points and nine rebounds. Hannah Weber scored nine, followed by Katelyn Neibauer’s five and Emily Dennis’ four. The Beeters were 44 percent from behind the 3-point arc and got three treys from Weber. But Chinook also got off just 29 total shots compared to Belts’ 48. Belt knocked down 16 field goals.
“The biggest thing was we gave up too much dribble penetration for layups,” Robinson said. “We could have switched our defense to zone, but then we would still have to spread out and have four perimeter players to guard, making almost like we were still guarding them man-to-man, just in a different zone on the floor. The dribble penetration was it thought, we gave 13 layups.
“We didn’t shoot one free throw, though,” Robinson added. “It isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility that they fouled us, I thought we could have gotten some calls, but it is just one of those things. We played hard and tried hard, but we didn’t seem to accomplish anything with that hard work. We busted our butts, but then turned around to get beat on a layup.”
Meanwhile, North Star was the team awaiting the Beeters after their loss to Belt on Friday night.
The Knights stayed alive with a 51-40 win over future 9C member Fort Benton Friday morning. North Star played relentless defense against the Longhorns, including holding them to just five points in the second quarter. And the Knights never trailed, finally finding some consistency on offense after a tough out Thursday morning.
Bettie Carlon scored 14 points and Tylynn Rettig notched 12 in the win over Fort Benton, which moved the Knights into a Saturday morning showdown with the Beeters.
But in a rematch of last week’s 9C championship game, Chinook proved too tough as the Beeters won 46-27. The loss to Chinook was North Star’s fourth this season, and it ended the Knights year with a 15-8 overall record. Chinook jumped out to a 17-8 lead, and turned the tables on the Knights by playing stifling defense. The Beeters led 23-15 at halftime, and held North Star to just 12 points the entire second half.
Makhayla Farmer scored 13 points for the Beeters, while Katelyn Neibauer added 12. North Star got 12 from Carlon and six by Mackenzie Hansen.
Saturday morning’s victory pushed Chinook into the Northern C consolation game, and a win would have given the Beeters a challenge game tonight against runner-up Winnett-Grass Range. But the Simms-Augusta Tigers had other ideas. The 10C champions played outstanding defense against the Beeters and used a 16-8 run in the fourth quarter to earn a 46-34 win and a third-place finish.
Chinook was very much in the game early, trailing just 9-8 at the end of the first and 20-17 at halftime. But the Beeters could never get their offense rolling, and the Tigers made clutch shots and free throws in the second half to pull away.
In the final game of a superb 21-3 season, the Beeters got 19 points and nine rebounds from Farmer, while fellow senior Emily Dennis chipped in with 10. Katelin Smith paced the Tigers with 18 points.
In Saturday night’s championship game, Belt won a third straight Northern C title and will move on to defend its Class C championship March 13-15 in Hamilton. Winnett-Grass Range also advanced to the Class C state tournament.
Note: Havre Daily sports editor George Ferguson contributed to this story.
North Star 51, Fort Benton 40 (lo)
Fort Benton 13 5 11 11 - 40
North Star 16 13 10 12 - 51
Fort Benton - Violett Green 5, Kinsey Claassen 18, Madison Schumacher 4, Katy Allen 6, Cassidy McCarthy 7. Totals: 18 3-3.
North Star - MacKenzie Hansen 6, Graysen Spicher 8, Tylynn Rettig 10, Bettie Carlon 14, Alissa Borlaug 4, Whitney Wendland 2, Sheridan O'Neil 2, Kiera Miller 5. Totals: 20 11-19.
Total fouls: Fort Benton 13, North Star 5. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: Green.
Belt 44, Chinook 30 (sf)
Belt 6 16 10 12 - 44
Chinook 15 6 7 2 - 30
Belt -- Bailey Cooper 2, Kara Gerke 9, Addy Martin 8, Katie Fertterer 19, Josie Stinson 2, Kieron Bergstrom 4. Totals: 16 12-23.
Chinook -- Emily Dennis 4, Hannah Weber 9, Makhayla Farmer 12, Katelyn Neibauer 5. Totals: 13 0-1.
Total fouls: Belt 10, CHN 14. Fouled out -- Brooke Nicholson (CHN). 3-pointers: Weber 3, Neibauer.
Chinook 46, North Star 27 (lo)
North Star 8 7 8 4 -- 27
Chinook 17 6 14 9 -- 46
North Star -- Mackenzie Hansen 6, Tylynn Rettig 4, Bettie Carlon 12, Sheridan O'Neil 5. Totals: 9 8-12.
Chinook -- Brooke Nicholson 6, Emily Dennis 5, Hannah Weber 4, Talya Johnson 6, Makhayla Farmer 13, Katelyn Neibauer 12. Totals: 19 4-5.
Total fouls -- N Star 10, Chin 13. 3-pointers -- Hansen, Dennis, Weber, Neibauer 2.
Chinook's Emily Dennis, right, brings the ball up against the Belt defense during Friday night's Northern C semifinal game in Great Falls.
Simms-Augusta 46, Chinook 34 (3rd)
Chinook 8 9 9 8 -- 34
Simms-Augusta 9 11 10 16 -- 46
Chinook -- Brooke Nicholson 2, Emily Dennis 10, Hannah Weber 3, Makhayla Farmer 19. Totals: 13 7-9.
Simms-Augusta -- Katelin Smith 18, Brittny Hoover 3, Hollee Meek 14, Karen Leonardson 2, Kendall Patch 9. Totals: 14 15-24.
Total fouls: CHI 17, SA 12. 3-pointers -- Weber, Meek 3.