George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
The Big Sandy Pioneers may have had the toughest first-round divisional opponent of any district champion in all of Class C basketball this season. But on Wednesday afternoon at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the Pioneers proved yet again just why they are still a Northern C powerhouse. In the opening round of the Northern C girls tournament on Wednesday, Big Sandy became the first team other than Highwood to beat the Belt Huskies this season. The Pioneers outlasted the Huskies 41-35 to move into tonight's semifinals where they'll face Mooor- Judith Gap. Despite the close affair, the Pioneers trailed just once the entire game. Belt led 11-9 after an 8-0 run, but Big Sandy's Laci Keller responded with six straight points leading the Pioneers on an 8-0 run and a 15-11 halftime lead. The Huskies continued to rally in the third and fourth quarter and trailed just 36-333 with 1:29 left in the game. But the Pioneers were able to salt the game away at the free-throw-line. Keller led all scorers with 23 points and she grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Sophomore Devin Lackner added six points in the Pioneers' win. In the nightcap Wednesday, the North Star Knights played valiantly, but couldn't keep pace with No. 1 and unbeaten Highwood. The Mountaineers were especially stingy on defense Wednesday night, holding North Star to just eight points in the first half on their way to a 45-27 victory. The Knights tried to fight back in the second half, but they trailed 41-16 at the end of three quarter, effectively ending any chance of an upset. North Star got seven points from Britnee Dyrland in the loss while the Mountaineers got a game-high 24 points by star senior Rachel Semansky. In other first-round games, Moore- Judith Gap beat 10C champion Valier 60-57 and 7C champion Winifred-Roy downed Dutton-Brady 58-34. The Pioneers (21-1) face the Tigers (16-6) tonight at 7 in the first semifinal while the Mountaineers (21-0) meet the Red Raiders (19-2) in the late game. In loser-out action this morning, the Knights (16-6) will try to keep their season alive against Dutton-Brady (15-7) and Valier (16-5) takes on Belt (18-4). The Northern C boys tournament begins this morning with Rocky Boy squaring off against Centerville at 11 and tonight, Big Sandy faces Augusta at 5:30.