The Chinook Sugarbeeters captured the District 9C girls regular season championship. They’ve also been in the 9C title game in each of the last two seasons.
On Thursday afternoon at the Havre High gymnasium, the Beeters made it three seasons in a row and left little doubt about who the team to beat in Havre this weekend is. In the 9C semifinals Thursday, Chinook clobbered defending champion Box Elder 61-29, moving into Saturday night’s championship game against the North Star Knights.
Chinook was dominant from start to finish, on both ends of the floor, and the Beeters never let the Bears into the contest.
“We came out strong,” Chinook’s Katelyn Neibauer said. “We played really well together, and I don’t think we had a stretch at any point in the game where we didn’t play well. That’s the best we’ve played in a long time.”
Hopefully, Chinook (16-3) saved some of its mojo for Saturday night, but head Charlie Robinson was pleased with his team’s effort, and for the fact his team is back in the championship game.
“When the shots are falling, you get into a much better sync in the game,” Robinson said. “And that’s how it kind of went for us. We knocked down some shots early, we played well on the other end, rebounding and defense and we got into a nice rhythm.
“It was a good win for us because we played well,” he added. “We’re in the championship for the third straight season and this team has really come together well.”
Hannah Weber and Emily Dennis got the Beeters going with 3-pointers in the first five minutes. On defense, Chinook stymied the Bears, who looked potent just 24 hours earlier in a win over Hays-Lodge Pole. Eventually, Chinook’s smothering defense led to a 15-4 first-quarter lead and ultimately, a hefty 32-14 at the break.
“The effort was really good today, I thought we won a lot of the battles for loose balls and rebounds and things like that,” Robinson said. “I thought we played very well for our first game of the tournament. And it’s really good preparation for Saturday night.”
Chinook did play well and never let up. The Beeters went on a 10-0 run behind six straight points from Makhayla Farmer in the third quarter, and the game was all but over.
Farmer wound up leading a balanced Chinook attack with 12 points and three boards. Rebounding was a huge advantage for the tall and athletic Beeters as they out-rebounded the young Bears 34-16. Chinook also turned Box Elder over 23 times. Neibauer had a strong outing as well, scoring 11 points, while Emily Dennis added nine points and hit two of Chinook’s four three’s. Chinook also shot a whopping 55 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, Box Elder (11-9) shot just 24 percent and eight percent from three. Senior Rebecca Rossette led the way with eight points, while Krista Chief Stick and Stephanie Sutherland added six each. Box Elder will look to stay alive when the Bears take on Turner tonight at 1 in loser-out action.
The Beeters on the other hand, will have to wait a day until they get their chance at a 9C title. Chinook will North Star in the title game Saturday night at 6 p.m.
“Whoever the opponent we have to be well prepared,” Robinson said. “I think we’re playing pretty well right now and today’s game will give us some confidence going into the championship game.”
“I can’t wait, I’m so excited for that game,” Neibauer said. “I’m ready to play right now.”
Chinook 61, Box Elder 29 (SF)
Chinook 15 17 18 11 – 61
Box Elder 2 12 6 9 – 29
Chinook – Hannah Weber 3, Emily Dennis 9, Madison McCann 6, Talya Johnson 5, Makhayla Farmer 12, Mikenda Seymour 5, Katelyn Neibauer 11, Alana Smith 5, Tavis Schneider 7. Totals: 24-43 9-15 61.
Box Elder – Michelle Winchell 4, Alecia Wlf Chief 3, Dominique Nault 1, Misty Baker 1, Krista Chief Stick 6, Rebecca Rossette 8, Stephanie Sutherland 6. Totals: 9-37 10-16 29.
Halftime: Chinook 32-14. 3-pointers: Chinook 4-8 (Dennis 1, Weber 1, Neibauer 1), Box Elder: 1-12 (Wolf Chief 1).Rebounds: Chinook 34 (Smith 6), Box Elder 16 (Winchell 4). Fouls: Chinook 14, Box Elder 15. Fouled out: Wolf Chief.