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Lady Vikings finish second at districts, head to divisionals

RONAN — The girls' District 14C basketball tournament ended up with the matchup everyone expected, but didn't end up the way the Charlo Lady Vikings and their fans had hoped.

Charlo took care of business and beat Noxon 44-22 in the semifinals, but couldn't generate enough scoring in a 40-33 loss to district foe Hot Springs in the championship. Still, the Lady Vikings finished second and earned a spot in this weekend's Western C Divisional Tournament at the Butte Maroon Activity Center. 

After a first-round bye, Charlo opened the tournament Friday evening with a strong win over Noxon. It took a while for the Lady Vikings to find the bottom of the net, though. Although they held the Red Devils to two points, Charlo scored just five points in the first quarter. 

"We missed some easy scoring opportunities early ... we were 1-for-5 from the line in the first quarter," Charlo head coach Bret Thompson said. "But we did a good job of controlling the ball and not giving them a lot of opportunities."

While Charlo's man-to-man defense held Noxon to four points in the second quarter, the Lady Vikings fired off 12. Jaris Kelley hit two buckets inside, while Stephanie Maughan and Deondra Brown nailed a couple of three-pointers.

Kinley Pope kicked it in gear in the fourth quarter to lead an 18-8 run that closed out the 44-22 win for Charlo. Pope scored inside and complemented Kelley's outside shooting. Kelley led Charlo with 18 points, while Pope finished with nine points and 14 of Charlo's 31 rebounds.

Charlo only had eight turnovers, but had 11 steals, led by Dawn Blevins and Brown with three apiece.

"We did a good job of controlling the ball and rebounded well," Thompson noted. "In the second half we shot free throws really well, going 8-for-11. That was a positive for what we were doing during the year."

The win set up the rematch with Hot Springs, which has been the only team to beat Charlo this year, handing the Lady Vikings two regular season losses. 

The Lady Vikings started out just the way they'd planned it, building a 9-2 lead off a balanced scoring attack that included a three-ball by Brown. But then Charlo hit a scoring drought as Hot Springs made a run toward halftime. 

Hot Springs tied it up 12-12 with just under a minute left in the second quarter, then surged to take an 18-13 halftime lead.

"We changed things up defensively and caught them flat-footed. Unfortunately, they then changed things up and caught us flat-footed on offense," Thompson explained.

Charlo scored just five in the second quarter and put up just three points in the third, helping Hot Springs take a 28-17 lead into the fourth.

"We just quit taking the ball to the bucket," coach Thompson explained. "We were content to shoot from long range. We didn't work the inside-outside game and they were able to extend their zone out a little farther."

The Lady Vikings did score 16 in the fourth quarter, led by and early three by Maughan, a baseline jumper by Blevins, two free throws by Rachel Hoyt and three free throws by Maughan that trimmed Hot Springs' lead to three (30-27) with 5:01 remaining in the game.

But that's when the scoring dried up for Charlo. While the Lady Vikings scored on two free throws over the next four and a half minutes, Hot Springs kept plugging away in the paint and at the line. Charlo's 16 points only matched what Hot Springs scored and the Savage Heat claimed the championship with a 40-33 win.

Maughan led Charlo with eight points, while Pope had six points and 10 rebounds and Kelley finished with five points and four steals. Both Maughan and Pope fouled out in the fourth quarter.

"In the first half we took care of their inside game, but in the second half we didn't ... But, still, it was more of our offense (not scoring) than defense," Thompson said. "We had to start fouling and they did a good job of taking it to the hole. But when you score only 10 field goals, it puts your back to the wall and we couldn't quite crawl out of the hole. We had a few opportunities ... we just didn't shoot a lot. They did a little better job on the offensive end than we did, as far as getting the ball to drop."

It was a disappointing loss, but the Lady Vikings still finished second and earned a trip to the Western C Divisional Tournament this weekend. They'll open the tournament Thursday evening at 8:30 p.m. against Harrison-Willow Creek.  

Thompson said he hasn't been able to scout Harrison, which finished second at the District 11/12C tournament. 

"All the teams are very similar. I don't think there's one dominant team. It's going to come down to girls battling," Thompson said. "Twin and Hot Springs have to be considered the favorites. But, after that ... all those teams beat each other. It should just come down to those good matchups."

Summary
District 14C Tournament
Ronan Event Center
Feb. 18-20, 2010

Semifinal
Charlo 44, Noxon 22
Charlo 5 12 9 18 –44
Noxon 2 4 8 8–22

CHARLO - Jaris Kelley 18, Kinley Pope 9, Dawn Blevins 4, Courtney Couture 3, Stephanie Maughan 3, Deondra Brown 3, Rachel Hoyt 2, Jessica Foust 2.
NOXON - Stephanie Larkin 4, Kim Marich 4, Shelby Swant 3, Rachel Stettler 2, Jordyn Wilkinson 6, Ashley Wiltse 3.

Championship
Hot Springs 40, Charlo 33
Hot Springs 6 12 10 16–40
Charlo 9 5 3 16–33

HOT SPRINGS - Randi Arnold 13, MacKenzie Wood 9, Meghan Massingale 8, Devon White 6, Elsa Schmiedbauer 2, Erin Schmiedbauer 2.
CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 8, Kinley Pope 6, Jaris Kelley 5, Dawn Blevins 4, Deondra Brown 4, Rachel Hoyt 4, Courtney Couture 2.

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