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Rising to the challenge

The short-handed Lady Vikings give the Lady Trojans all they can handle before falling in the Western C Divisional challenge game

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With the euphoria of their semifinal victory over White Sulphur Springs, seemingly farther than 100 miles away and more removed than three days, a young, short-handed Lady Viking crew pulled together and proved to the favored Lady Trojan team that they were up for the challenge.

Determination and good defense weren’t enough to overcome ice-cold shooting, and Charlo fell to Drummond 31-24 in the Western C Divisional challenge game Monday night at Valley Christian in Missoula. 

With senior Jaris Kelley on the sideline with a partially torn ACL she suffered taking a charge from Lady Falcon Peyton Ferris midway through the second quarter in the Lady Vikings’ 56-26 championship loss to Twin Bridges at the Maroon Activities Center in Butte Saturday night, the short-handed Lady Vikings had a good chance to take an early lead against the Lady Trojans, but only went 3-for-11 from the free-throw line in the first quarter, missing their final six attempts and going into the second quarter with the score tied at 4. 

Lady Viking sophomore Kinley Pope drove the baseline and laid the ball in to give Charlo a 12-8 lead with just more than a minute to play in the first half, but the Lady Trojans went on a 7-0 run to end the half, which included two 3-pointers on back-to-back trips down the court from Brianna Jesse, who finished with a game-high 20 points.

The Lady Vikings limited the Lady Trojans to only two field goals in the second half with none of them coming in the fourth quarter to keep the lead tantalizingly close, but they went 4-for-24 from the field in the second half and ended the season with a 31-24 loss.

“I don’t have any answers,” Charlo coach Bret Thompson said after the game. 

“You’ve got to make baskets. We knew that before we got here.”

Deondra Brown, who finished with four points, drove to the basket at 5:34 in the third quarter to cut the Lady Trojans’ lead to 19-14. It was the Lady Vikings’ only field goal in the quarter. They went 1-for-9 from the field in the third.

Dawn Blevins scored on a reverse layup with 7:07 left to make it a 25-17 game. Kinley Pope, who led the Lady Vikings with nine points, pulled Charlo within four with four minutes to play. Jesse pushed the lead back to six with a pair of free throws. Rachel Hoyt put back and offensive rebound with about two minutes to play to make it 28-24, but Hoyt’s two points were Charlo’s last points of the season.

With Kelley, who scored 25 points in Charlo’s 49-39 victory over Harrison-Willow Creek to open the tournament, on the sideline, it would be easy for the Lady Vikings to use that as an excuse for their lack of offense.

“That has nothing to do with this game. We have girls that can step up ... It’s just part of the game. Good teams find a way of staying in a game and I think our girls did that. They stayed in this game and gave us a good chance to win. I call them a good team,” Thompson said.

It was the Lady Vikings’ young girls stepping up against the Lady Trojans, with seniors Stephanie Maughan and Courtney Couture in foul trouble most of the way, that accounted for 23 of the Lady Vikings’ 24 points in the game.

“I’m not disappointed in the effort. I’m disappointed that it didn’t get to work out for them. They worked hard. They’re hard workers. It has nothing to do with their effort. I’m just disappointed that we loss,” Thompson said.

The Lady Vikings entered the divisional tournament with 14 wins, but none of those wins were really signature wins. That signature win came in their opening 49-39 statement victory over the Wildcats, who finished in second at the District 11/12-C Tournament.

Kelley scored the Lady Vikings first seven points in the game and finished with 25 points. The senior connected on five 3-pointers. Pope finished with 10 points and Maughan added five.

The win over the Wildcats put the Lady Vikings in the semifinal game against White Sulphur Springs, who opened the tournament with a double-overtime victory over Drummond. 

Trailing 19-21 with just more than two minutes to play in the first half, Pope scored the final five points in the first half and the Lady Vikings went into the break with a 24-19 lead, a lead they never relinquished in a 32-27 victory. 

The Lady Vikings had pushed the lead to the 30-23 with 3:06 to play and it looked like that they had secured their spot in the championship, but they missed the front ends of three one-and-ones in the final minutes, before Kelley sealed the game with a pair of free throws with 9.3 seconds to play.

“It’s been one of those seasons where we’ve always kind of been in everything and the last couple of games we’ve had a chance to finish and we’ve came through,” Thompson said. “That’s what you’re always hoping for at the end of the year that you can come up with the big play and right now that’s what we’re doing.”

Like she’s been doing all year, Pope went up against much taller opponents, but still finished with a team-high 12 poitns. Kelley added 11 and Blevins finished with six.

Charlo 49, Harrison 39
Charlo 9 13 12 15–49
Harrison 5 11 8 15–39

CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 5, Rachel Hoyt 2, Dawn Blevins 4, Kinley Pope 10, Deondra Brown 3, Jaris Kelley 25.
HARRISON-WILLOW CREEK - Becca White 8, Elizabeth Young 1, Austin White 14, Taylor Statton 6, Abbey Galt 10.

Charlo 32, W. Sulphur Springs 27
W.S. Springs 6 7 8 6–27
Charlo8 3 13 8–32

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Kayla Secrest 6, Shelby Buckingham 13, Sarah Kusek 2, Becky Townsend 6.
CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 3, Dawn Blevins 6, Kinley Pope 12, Jaris Kelley 11.

Twin Bridges 56, Charlo 26
Charlo 5 5 7 9–26
Twin Bridges 14 14 13 15–56

CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 9, Rachel Hoyt 3, Dawn Blevins 12, Kinley Pope 1, Deondra Brown 3.
TWIN BRIDGES - Taylor Sewell 2, Stephanie DiGiovanna 2, Kattie Hamilton 2, Shawni Hamilton 2, Cate Hirschey 6, Brooke Hirschey 6, Sara Dustin 9, Torey Sewell 5, Peyton Ferris 16, Katie Ashcraft 6.


Drummond 31, Charlo 24
Drummond 4 11 9 7–31
Charlo 4 8 4 8–24

DRUMMOND - Jessi Dahl 2, Brianna Jesse 20, Kenzie Bradshaw 3, M.J. Monroe 1, Emilie Angelo 3, Rhianna Pool 2.
CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 1, Rachel Hoyt 5, Jessica Foust 2, Dawn Blevins 3, Kinley Pope 9, Deondra Brown 4.

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