Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
All season long, the Big Sandy girls basketball team has dominated the rest of the District 9C. And when it was time for the 9C tournament, little changed as the Pioneers rolled to tournament championship. The Pioneers scored 11 of the first 13 points against Rocky Boy in the 9C girl's title game Saturday night in Havre, six of which were scored by junior guard Kourtney Danreuther. After that the Big Sandy never looked back leading the game from start to finish on its way to an 89-33 demolition of the defending champion Morning Stars to finish with a sweep of the 9C regular season and postseason championships. The Pioneers went after the young Rocky Boy backcourt by applying a suffocating full-court press from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The press was so effective that the Pioneers forced Rocky Boy into 21 turnovers. Big Sandy also controlled the glass with 49 rebounds to just 34 for Rocky Boy. Even when Rocky Boy got the ball across halfcourt, the Pioneers' defense still dominated, as the Morning Stars shot just 30 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free-throw-line. “We knew that they had a couple of younger guards, so a big part of our strategy was to put a lot of pressure of them,” Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner. “We worked hard all game long, the girls hustled and we were able to take advantage of their youth by turning them over a lot. This was a big reason why we were so successful.” The Pioneers got points from 11 different players, including four players that reached double-figures in the decisive win. Danreuther was the leading scorer along with Shersteen Cline, as they each notched 17 points. The Pioneers also got some big-time production from their from post players Laci Keller and Morgan Darlington. Keller was 4-9 from the field and reached the free-throw-line 14 times, connecting on seven of them on her way to 15 points. She also had five rebounds. Darlington also dominated inside, scoring 11 points. Yet, her biggest contribution came on the boards, as she posted a game-high 12 rebounds, highlighted by an impressive nine offensive rebounds. “It's an awesome feeling,” Darlington said of winning both the regular season and postseason 9C championships. “It was a total team effort. We did a great job defensively. We really play well together and it seems like every single game we play, someone new steps up and has a big game, which makes it tough for people to stop us.” After a slow start, Rocky Boy managed to pull within six points at 15-9 with 2:28 remaining in the first quarter. However, Rocky Boy never got any closer, as the Pioneers reeled off 18 consecutive points, while Rocky Boy went 6:26 without scoring a point, giving Big Sandy an insurmountable 33-9 lead. The Pioneer lead continued to increase throughout the second quarter. In fact, the Pioneers closed out the first half on an 8-0 run, which was capped off by a three-point play, which gave them a 47-18 halftime lead. The domination continued into the third quarter, as Big Sandy held the Morning Stars to just four points in the quarter, while scoring 24 points to take a 71-22 lead into the final stanza. No Rocky Boy players managed to score in double figures, but the Morning Stars were led by Apryl Webster, who scored seven points in the loss. Making the defeat even more painful for Rocky Boy is that the Morning Stars will now have to play a challenge game tonight at the Havre High School gymnasium against Box Elder for a spot in the Northern C Divisional tournament. The game will get underway at 6. “We just have some young guards and they were pretty intimidated tonight,” Rocky Boy head coach John Chance Houle said. “They out rebounded us and dominated us defensively, but we are going to regroup and I guarantee that we will be back on Monday night.” Meanwhile, Big Sandy (20-0) is already headed back to the Northern C tournament after avenging last year's loss to Rocky Boy in the 9C title game. The Northern C Divisional begins Thursday morning in Great Falls.