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Storm Warning: Tornadoes back in the 9C semis

Turner fights off a strong effort from CJI, faces North Star tonight


February 21, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Turner's Laci Maloney, right, drives the ball during a District 9C girls game against Chester-Joplin-Inverness Thursday in the Havre High gymnasium. The Tornadoes advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year.

No longer underdogs at the District 9C girls tournament, the Turner Tornadoes instead had to fend off an underdog in the opening round of the 2020 9C tournament.

That underdog was a very good Chester-Joplin-Inverness squad, which gave the third-seeded Tornadoes all they could handle Thursday afternoon inside the Havre High gymnasium.

And yet, at the end of the day, Turner had the experience and tenacity to overcome a strong effort from the Hawks, in a 45-39 win - a win that pushed the Tornadoes (13-6) into the 9C semifinals again, as well as one step closer to a third straight trip to Great Falls, and the Northern C.

Still the win didn't come easy, and CJI head coach Kristi Pulst was thrilled with the fight her young Hawks put up.

"I'm very proud of the girls," Pulst said. "We played them (Tornadoes) very tough again."

The Hawks did, though Laci Maloney got Turner off to a great start with a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers. Sarah Billmayer would add a late bucket as well, but, the Hawks trailed just 14-9.

Shyan Krass then went to work for Turner in the second quarter, and the Tornadoes stretched their lead to 31-20 at intermission, and the Tornadoes led by 12 after three. From there, though, CJI nearly fought all the way back, as Tatum Hull and Haddie Woods led a furious comeback that saw the Hawks trail by just two scores several times in the final minutes.

And while it wasn't meant to be, it was a good showing by the Hawks, who have had plenty of ups and downs this season. The showing included 17 points from Hull and 12 by Woods.

"This team has come a long way this season," Pulst said. "They're a good group of girls, they work hard, they play together. I think the future is really bright for this group."

While CJI tried to stave off elimination this morning, it's on to the semifinals once again for the Tornadoes, who will meet rival North Star tonight at 5:30. The winner goes to divisionals, while the loser will have to take the long road to Great Falls. It's a spot Turner, which got 17 points and 19 rebounds from Krass on Thursday, has been two straight years, and tonight, they hope to change the script by advancing to a coveted 9C championship game.

The winner of tonight's semifinal will meet either Fort Benton or Hays-Lodge Pole in Saturday night's 9C girls championship game.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Chester-Joplin-Inverness' Haddie Woods, left, looks to shoot during Thursday's 9C first-round game against Turner in Havre. The Hawks put up a good fight but fell in the end.

Turner 45, Chester-Joplin-Inverness 39

Turner 14 17 10 4 - 45

CJI 9 11 9 10 - 39

Turner - Dakota Krass 2, Emma Billmayer 2, Sarah Billmayer 9, Laci Maloney 11, Brooke Reed 4, Shyan Krass 17.

CJI - Tatum Hull 17, Averie Mattson 4, Molly Nelson 4, Haddie Woods 12, Lily Wickum 2.

3-pointers: (Maloney 2, Krass 1, Hull 2). Fouls: Turner 14, CJI 11. Fouled out: None.


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