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Beeters survive a Tornado

Chinook edges Turner in the opening round of the 9C girls tournament


February 16, 2017

Colin Thompson

Chinook's Erin Pula, left, handles the ball during Wednesday's District 9C girls game against Turner at the HHS gymnasium. The Sugarbeeters won to advance to tonight's semifinal against top-seeded Box Elder.

The Chinook Sugarbeeters and Turner Tornadoes waged two great battles during the District 9C girls basketball season - each winning on their home floor.

And while Wednesday's rubber match, in the opening round of the District 9C girls basketball tournament was another good game, it was one which belonged to the Beeters from start to finish as Chinook advanced to tonight's 9C semifinal with a 45-39 win.

"We had to play through some adversity today," Chinook head coach Molli Rose said. "But I thought once we developed a cohesiveness on the floor, it really helped us out offensively. I thought both teams played really strong defense, but we executed really well offensively."

Executing on offense proved to be the difference. While both teams committed 22 turnovers, Chinook shot 45 percent from the field to Turner's 26 percent. And that was where the Beeters were able to build a lead and hold it.

Chinook got out to a 10-5 lead on an Erin Pula basket, but back-to-back scores by Ella Billmayer helped Turner stay close at 12-8 after one period of play.

In a low-scoring second stanza, Pula and Sierra Swank hit key shots, while Turner's only field goal came from Melanie Watkins as Chinook took a 19-12 lead into halftime. The Beeters kept their lead through most of the third stanza at or near double digits, but when Raegan Conlan and Sarah Billmayer scored on back-to-back layups, Turner had closed the gap to 26-21 and it looked like the Tornadoes were well within striking distance. Instead, Brooke Elliot buried a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, and the Beeters were back in front 29-21.

Elliot's shot proved to be a dagger to the Tornadoes heart, too. It gave Chinook momentum, and, by the 4:13 mark of the fourth quarter, the Beeters led 37-24. Turner battled hard to the end, and was able to extend the game by putting Chinook on the free-throw-line, and by making some key shots down the stretch, including a triple by Sarah Billmayer. But in the end, it wasn't enough as Turner's chances of playing for a 9C title were dashed by the Beeters.

"We wanted this one pretty bad," Ella Billmayer said. "But we just have to come back tomorrow and give it all our heart, like we always do."

Billmayer finished with six points, while Raegan Conlan led the Tornadoes (10-9), who played in a loser-out game against Big Sandy this morning, with eight points, while Shyan Krass had eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, Chinook (10-9) got a balanced effort offensively, led by Carrie Hofer's 12 points. Swank and Elliot each scored nine and Pula added eight as the Beeters advanced to the semifinals yet again, where the top-seeded Box Elder Bears await.

"We definitely have to take care of the ball," Rose said of her team's chances against the Bears. "We have to cut down on turn overs and execute really well offensively. On defense, we have to be disciplined, but aggressive at the same time. It's going to be a tough game."

Tonight's semifinal between Box Elder and Chinook tips at 7 in the HHS gymnasium. The winner moves on to Friday night's championship game, to face either Fort Benton or North Star.

Colin Thompson

Turner's Sarah Billmayer goes in for layup during Wednesday's 9C girls game against Chinook at the HHS gymnasium. Turner fell to the Sugarbeeters and played against this morning. For more on the Turner girls, see Page B3.

Chinook 45, Turner 36

Chinook 12 7 10 16 - 45

Turner 8 4 9 15 - 36

Chinook: S. Swank 9, C. Hofer 12, K. Hanson 3, J. Anderson 2, R. Chaffin 2, E. Pula 8, B. Elliot 9. Totals: 16 10-22.

Turner: Raegan Conlan 10, E. Billmayer 6, S. Billmayer 5, Rylee Conlan 3, M. Watkins 4, R. Watkins 4, S. Krass 4. Totals: 12 9-15.

3-pointers: Hofer, Elliot, Raegan Conlan, S. Billmayer, Rylee Conlan.

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