By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
BELGRADE - In a tournament where free throws were anything but free for the Chester Coyotes, it seemed only fitting that a pair of made free throws would secure a win in their final game of the season.
Shawnee Norick's two free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining secured a 62-60 win for Chester in Saturday's consolation game at the 2005 Class C Girls State Basketball Tournament at the Belgrade Special Events Center.
Norick had the opportunity to win the game the easier way. After Circle tied the game at 60 with a 1:31 remaining on a Allie Rolandson third straight 3-pointer, Chester milked the remaining time on the clock to get a final shot. Gordon called timeout with 9.5 seconds to play to draw up a play. Circle head coach followed up with a timeout of his own after seeing the Coyotes' set up.
"Originally, we called a play, an isolation for Mary (DeVries)," Gordon said. "But after they called timeout, we changed it to a sideline play for Shawnee. It's usually designed for a guard, but we ran it for her. She's a senior, she's lefthanded and we were on the left side of the floor. I'll take my chances with that."
Norick caught the inbounds pass moving toward the basket and got to the basket with ease, putting up a left-handed layup over 5-11 Brittany Hove. The shot was just a bit long, but DeVries gobbled the offensive rebound and put it back up quickly. The ball hung on the rim was agonizingly close to going in. This time Norick grabbed the ball and tried to put it up and was fouled by Circle's Bailey Witte.
Norick showed little if any nervousness, calmly sinking the first one. Her second one didn't touch a part of the rim.
"I wasn't nervous," Norick said. "There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I might miss."
"How fitting is that," Gordon said. "Our only senior and she draws a foul with one second left in the state tournament. You can't dream it up any better than that."
Actually, Gordon wasn't getting enough sleep to do much dreaming. The Coyotes' free-throw shooting in the tourney was causing him to stay up a little later than usually.
Poor free-throw shooting nearly cost Chester its first-round game against Ekalaka and really hurt the Coyotes in their 35-27 loss to Scobey in the semifinals.
"I don't know, maybe it was destiny," Gordon said. "Had we shot that well in the semis, we might have been playing in the championship."
Destiny was certainly challenged late in the game. After trading leads for the entire first half and the beginning of the second, Chester finally put together one of its signature scoring bursts early in the third quarter.
It started out innocent enough as Keyla Briese scored on a tough put back and DeVries scored inside to push a one-point lead to five. Circle answered with a jump shot from Danielle Trower. But the Coyotes reeled off eight straight points as Briese and Amanda Violett buried key 3-pointers to push the lead to 43-34.
Circle did slow the run with a basket from Witte and a 3-pointer from Rolandson. But Briese sank another long 3-pointer and DeVries scored inside to push the lead to 48-37 going into the fourth quarter.
However, fatigue from the Coyotes' 73-64 double overtime win over White Sulphur Springs earlier in the morning started to taking its toll in the fourth quarter.
Circle began to climb back into the game behind the play and the will of Rolandson. The diminutive point guard simply hit big shot after big shot to rally the Wildcats.
Rolandson's 3-pointer from the wing cut the lead down to 54-48 with 4:35 remaining. But it was the final three minutes when she took over. Her driving basket trimmed the lead to 56-52. She followed that up with another 3-pointer to whittle the lead to one with 2:59.
DeVries gave Chester a slight reprieve with a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three.
However, Rolandson got open for another three 30 seconds later to cut the lead to 58-57. Again Chester tried end the Circle rally, getting a score inside from Norick.
But Rolandson buried her fourth 3-pointer of the quarter to tie the game at 60 with 1:30 remaining.
"I definitely think fatigue was a factor late, especially on defense," Gordon said. "(Rolandson) was out there throwing up daggers in the fourth quarter. They were looking for her and she was absolutely burying them. And we couldn't seem to close out on her fast enough."
However, Rolandson's heroics were overshadowed by Norick's at the end. It's something that Gordon has come to expect from her.
"She's done a great job this season," Gordon said. "She had to be more of a scorer in the first half of the season with Mary out. And once Mary came back, they really worked well and complimented each other and made each other better."
It's tough to imagine DeVries getting much better than her 24 points and nine rebounds. Norick finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Briese had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Rolandson had 23 points and six assists, while Trower added 18 points.
After needing overtime in the first round, the Coyotes needed two extra frames to stay alive in the tournament. Briese kept the season alive, scoring 11 of her game-high 31 points in the second overtime to knock off White Sulphur Springs 73-64 in Saturday morning's loser-out contest.
Poor free-throw shooting almost cost the Coyotes again, as they missed six of seven free throws late in the fourth quarter and managed to score just three points in the quarter.
Briese fixed the free throw problem in overtime, hitting all six of her attempts. She finished 13-15 from the charity stripe, while the rest of the Coyotes were a combined 8-15. She also added 10 rebounds. Norick had 13 points and 12 rebounds,while sophomore Brianne Wolfe had a brilliant game with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Chester's state championship dreams ended Friday night at a snail's pace. The Scobey Spartans showed a chess player's patience on offense and a pit pull's personality on defense in a 35-27 win.
The Spartans wanted no part of the Coyotes' athleticism, instead preferring to work the ball around the perimeter for minutes at a time, eventually working it into 6-3 center Shalice Tommerup for a short turnaround jump shot.
"Our guards played a great game," said Scobey head coach Dan Wang. "I told them we wanted to slow it way down and get a great shot. It took awhile for them to get used to it, but they really executed."
Gordon expected Scobey to play that style, but he thought his team would be able to force them out of that style. Unfortunately, the Coyotes didn't shoot well enough from the field or the free-throw line early on to do that.
Chester shot an icy 3-18 from the field in the first half and 3-8 from the free-throw line to dig itself a tough hole to get out of.
"You know I liked our game plan coming in against them," Gordon said. "We were going to be content to let them slow it down, but we didn't hit enough shots to really let them do that."
Trailing 22-10 at halftime, the Coyotes began the arduous task of climbing back into the game. Chester got as close as six points as Norick scored on back-to-back baskets and DeVries added another inside to cut the lead to 22-16. However, the Coyotes would get no closer.
"Being down like that, we had to gamble a little on defense to try force the pace a little," Gordon said. "But that's tough to do."
For the game, Chester shot 25 percent from the field on 10-40 shooting, and 5-13 from the free-throw line for 38 percent.
"You don't win many games shooting like that," Gordon said. "It doesn't matter who you are playing."
Norick was the only player to reach double figures for Chester with 10 points. Tommerup had 10 for Scobey.
Elsewhere at the tournament, Rocky Boy's dream season came to an end in Friday's loser-out action, but the Morning Stars didn't go down without a fight, losing to White Sulphur Springs, 66-62, in overtime.
After getting roughed up by eventual state champ Reed Point-Rapelje in the first round, the Stars' tournament hopes seemed to be still alive when Frances Eagleman sank one of two free throws with no time remaining to tie the game at 56 and send it into overtime.
In the extra frame, White Sulphur managed to outscore the Stars 10-6 despite the fact that four starters had fouled out.
Loni Belcourt led the Morning Stars with 24 points, while sister Tori added 11 points, eight rebounds and five rebounds. Eagleman was solid with 14 points. Chelsey St. Pierre had eight points and 11 rebounds.
Chester 62, Circle 60
Chester 14 12 22 14 - 62
Circle 11 13 13 23 - 60
Amanda Violett 1-3 1-2 4, Shawnee Norick 4-9 6-7 14, Mary DeVries 8-17 8-8 24, Brianne Wolfe 1-2 2-3 4, Keyla Briese 5-9 1-1 13, Brittney Kolstad 1-2 0-1 2, Jackie Alisch 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 20-43 19-24 62.
Elsie Rolandson 4-12 0-0 9, Bailey Witte 0-2 2-2 2, Brittany Hove 3-8 0-0 6, Allie Rolandson 9-15 1-2 23, Danielle Trower 8-10 2-3 18, Schillinger 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 25-50 5-7 60.
3-point goals - Chester 3-7 (Briese 2-3, Violett 1-3, Kolstad 0-1), Circle 5-15 (Rolandson 4-7, Rolandson 1-6, Schillinger 0-2). Fouled out - Trower. Total fouls - Chester 11, Circle 18.
Chester 73, White Sulphur Springs 64 (2OT-lo)
Chester 13 16 17 3 9 15 - 73
WSS 13 11 13 12 9 6 - 64
Chester - Amanda Violett 2-10 0-1 4, Shawnee Norick 6-10 1-2 13, Mary DeVries 1-4 2-6 4, Brianne Wolfe 7-10 3-4 17, Keyla Briese 8-15 13-15 31, Jackie Alisch 1-2 2-2 4. Totals: 25-51 21-30.
White Sulphur Springs - Emily Shinabarger 1-8 0-0 3, Whitney Rostad 8-30 3-5 22, Jen Lester 1-5 0-0 2, Lorinda Hunt 10-13 2-5 22, Laura Collins 1-7 0-0 2, Christina Lind 2-4 1-3 5, Lacey Morrison 2-8 2-2 6, Anita O'Neill 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 26-78 8-15.
Total fouls: Chester 16, White Sulphur Springs 27. Fouled out: Lester, Hunt. Three-point goals: Chester 2-8 (Violett 0-1, Briese 2-7), White Sulphur 4-21 (Shinabarger 1-6, Rostad 3-14, Collins 0-1). Rebounds: Chester 44 (Norick 12, Briese 10), White Sulphur 38 (Hunt 7). Turnovers: Chester 27, White Sulphur 18.
Scobey 35, Chester 27 (sf)
Chester 3 7 7 10 - 27
Scobey 8 14 6 7 - 35
Chester - Amanda Violett 1-4 0-0 2, Britney Kolstad 0-0 0-1 0, Shawnee Norick 4-17 2-4 10, Leisa Kolstad 0-1 0-0 0, Mary DeVries 3-9 0-2 6, Chelsea Stokes 1-1 1-2 4, Brianne Wolfe 0-3 1-2 1, Keyla Briese 1-5 0-0 0, Jackie Alisch 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 10-40 5-13.
Scobey - Gerry Richardson 0-9 0-0 0, Kyla Selvig 2-6 2-4 7, Erin Fosland 2-6 0-0 4, Laura Gunderson 2-5 3-4 7, Lindsey Tande 3-5 1-1 7, Shalice Tommerup 5-7 0-0 10. Totals 14-38 6-9.
Team Fouls - Chester 14, Scobey 14. Fouled out - none. 3-point goals - Chester 2-6 (Stokes 1-1, Briese 1-5), Scobey 1-4 (Selvig 1-1, Richardson 0-3). Rebounds - Chester 29 (DeVries 8), Scobey 30 (Tommerup 10).
White Sulphur Springs 66, Rocky Boy 62 (OT-lo)
Rocky Boy 10 14 16 16 6 - 62
White Sulphur 14 11 11 20 10 - 66
Rocky Boy - Shaneen Raining Bird 1-2 1-4 3, Loni Belcourt 4-17 14-24 24, Tori Belcourt 3-16 5-8 11, Frances Eagleman 6-10 2-8 14, Chelsey St. Pierre 2-2 2-6 6, Cortney St. Pierre 0-0 0-0 0, Deena Sunchild 0-0 0-0 0, Erin Broncho 2-2 0-2 4. Totals 18-49 24-52 62.
White Sulphur Springs - Emily Shinabarger 3-13 1-2 7, Whitney Rostad 6-16 5-10 21, Lorinda Hunt 6-14 3-4 15, Christina Lind 0-3 0-0 0, Lacey Morrison 1-14 6-10 8, Courtney Sjoden 0-4 0-0 0, Jen Lester 5-9 0-3 10, Laura Collins 0-1 0-0 0, Anita O'Neill 2-4 1-2 5. Totals 23-78 16-31 66.
3-point goals - Rocky Boy 2-15 (L. Belcourt 2-7, Raining Bird 0-1, Eagleman 0-2), White Sulphur 4-18 (Rostad 4-11, Sjoden 0-1, Shinabarger 0-6). Fouled out-Raining Bird, Broncho, Rostad, Lester, Hunt, Lind. Total fouls - Rocky Boy 26, White Sulphur 31. Rebounds - Rocky Boy 43 (St. Pierre 11), White Sulphur 58 (Morrison 19).