February 16, 2017
The start of the District 9C tournament is always exciting, but no game was more exciting on the first day of the girls tournament than the one between North Star and Chester-Joplin-Inverness.
North Star, which came in as the third seed, needed a stellar fourth-quarter to rally from a five-point deficit to gut out a 45-40 victory inside the HHS gymnasium Wednesday night. With the win, the Knights advance to tonight's semifinal game with Fort Benton, which is set for 8:30.
"That has been our team all year," North Star head coach Rob Spicher said. "We haven't lost a close game all season long. We have been blown out in some games, but when it's been close, our girls have found a way to get it done and they did that again tonight."
The Knights jumped out to an early lead thanks to four points from Paij Peterson, who gave North Star an early 8-4 edge on the scoreboard. Yet, the Hawks trimmed the lead before the end of the opening stanza and after the first eight minutes, trailed 12-9.
The Hawks took their first lead in the middle of the second quarter and 6-0 spurt by CJI that featured buckets by Korrin Harmon and Kayona Fraser. After that, the Hawks led 20-19, but a late bucket by the Knights, gave them a 21-20 halftime advantage.
At the start of the second half, the Hawks came out firing. They scored four of the first five points to go up 24-22 after two Harmon free throws. Then a 3-pointer by Payton Hawks put CJI in front 29-24, capping a 9-1 run for the underdogs. Soon after, Hawks hit another triple and with eight minutes to play, CJI led North Star 34-29.
Down by five points and starting defeat in the face, the Knights clamped down defensively. North Star scored five straight points to tie the game and took the lead when Sheridan Spicher hit a mid-range jumper. After some free throws by Peterson, North Star then got a bucket inside by a from Peytan King, to cap a 12-0 run for the Knights, which put them in front 41-34. It never got closer than a two-possession game again.
"Our team never really panics in those situations," Spicher said. "We have been that way all year and when we really needed to, our girls came together and they found a way to pull it out there at the end."
King, who made some big buckets down the stretch, finished with a game-high 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Peterson also put together a solid effort for the Knights as she finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and four steals. Spicher added nine points and four rebounds.
Hawks led the way for CJI, scoring 12 points and knocking down four triples. Harmon also pitched in with 11 for the Hawks. She was 9-of-14 from the free throw line to finish with 11 points. She also added 11 rebounds and two blocks. Kendahl Knapton also pitched in with 10 points and five rebounds.
The Knights (13-6) will advance to the semifinals tonight to take on Fort Benton, which knocked off Hays-Lodge Pole in another quarterfinal game. CJI played this morning in loser-out action.
"Hopefully we will get another chance at a close game," Spicher said. "We have played them a couple times this year and if we can get in another close game, then we will have a chance to do what we have done all year."
North Star 45, CJI 40
North Star 12 8 9 16 - 45
CJI 9 12 13 6 – 40
North Star – Katelyn Hansen 3, Paij Peterson 11, Lily Pedersen 2, Katelin Harvey 2, Sheridan Spicher 9, Chelsea Donaldson 4, Peytan King 14. Totals: 17 11-18.
CJI – Kendahl Knapton 10, Korrin Harmon 11, Kayona Fraser 1, Abby Fraser 2, Khloe Kammerzell 2, Jasmine Cole 2, Payton Hawks 12. Totals: 12 12-20.
Fouls – North Star 17, CJI 13. Fouled out – none. 3-pointers: CJI 4 (Hawks 4), North Star 0.