First things first: Lady Pirates shift focus to battling Libby at divisionals Friday
POLSON — The Polson Lady Pirates still haven't figured out how to collar Columbia Falls' DeWit sisters, but they did pick up a win to end the regular season on a positive note.
Polson fell to the Wildkats in Columbia Falls Thursday night 52-44 but came back home to finish off the season with a 50-32 win over the visiting Ronan Maidens Saturday night.
In Columbia Falls, the Lady Pirates lost the battle of the boards and struggled to contain twin-tower posts Kayla and Kelsey DeWit. Kelsey spurred an early Columbia Falls run with and a quick eight points off the back side of Polson's 2-3 zone defense, sparking a 14-11 start for the Wildkats.
"Kelsey really hurt us in the beginning. So we switched to man (defense) late in the first. Then we kind of played with them," Polson head coach Randy Kelley explained.
But Polson struggled to find the bottom of the net while Columbia Falls hit the three-ball and cutters to the basket, going ups 30-18 at the half. The second half was much the same, with Columbia Falls maintaining control of the pace and posting the 52-44 win.
"We were having trouble (stopping the DeWits) still even out of man. That's the kicker for us. We've got to find a way to slow them down," coach Kelley said. "You don't have to look far to see where their scoring comes from. They're a handful."
Breanne Kelley led Polson's scoring with 14 points to go with six boards, while Riley Kenney put up 10 points, six rebounds and two steals from her low post.
"We only had 11 turnovers, but we just didn't do a good job rebounding. They got a lot of easy put-backs on our back side. They probably had double of what we had for rebounds," Kelley noted.
The Lady Pirates returned home and took out their frustrations on the Ronan Maidens Saturday. Polson went up 14-7 in the first quarter, helped by a fairly good defensive effort through four quarters. The Lady Pirates held the scrappy Ronan squad to single-digit scoring in three quarters to cruise to the 50-32 win.
Kelley led Polson with 15 points, while Sierra Pete hit for 10. Nicole Davey had a solid night with 10 points, six steals and eight rebounds. Kenney also scored eight and hauled in 10 boards.
But, it wasn't the prettiest of games, despite the pretty-in-pink uniforms the Lady Pirates wore in honor of the Pink Zone breast cancer fundraiser held across the nation.
"It was a sloppy game. They had 27 turnovers and we had 25 turnovers," Kelley said. "
Polson did shoot 39 percent from the floor and made 23 of 34 free throws.
"I don't like giving up layups, but I thought we did a pretty good job on defense. We played some 2-3 and then to man and then back to 2-3 to counter their dribble-drive," Kelley said. "It seemed like they hurried their shots against our 2-3 and kind of got them out of their comfort zone, as far as shooting the ball a little quicker than they wanted to. But give Ronan credit. For as young as they are they've definitely improved over the year."
Now the Lady Pirates are focusing on this weekend's divisional tournament, which will be held at Glacier High School in Kalispell. They are the number two seed and receive a first round bye before facing Libby in the 4 p.m. game on Friday. If they win, they'll be in the 6 p.m. championship game on Saturday, with a good chance of earning a trip to state.
But Kelley and his team know they've got their work cut out for them.
"Our play has not been as consistent as we need it right now ... It's tough," Kelley said. "You've got to take it one game at a time. Whoever wins that first game has a real chance of going to state. So, our focus has been on Libby all week. And we're focusing on Jackie Mee and stopping her. We'll switch up a little on defense, but they hurt us in Libby as far as hitting some big shots by other girls. We've got to put a stop to that."
Columbia Falls 52, Polson 44
Polson 11 7 13 13–44
C. Falls 14 16 16 6–52
POLSON - Mariah Hamel 6, Sierra Pete 8, Breanne Kelley 14, Riley Kenney 10, Nicole Davey 6.
C. FALLS - Dani Gilley 5, Ashli Fairbank 2, Kayla DeWit 19, Brooke Cady 2, Shay Grilley 7, Kelsey DeWit 18.
Polson 50, Ronan 32
Ronan 7 7 10 8–32
Polson 14 11 13 12–50
RONAN - Courtney Clairmont 6, Jonna Grant 8, Alice VanGunten 4, Nina Orozco 2, Ashley Grandchamp 6, Taylir Irvine 4.
POLSON - Mariah Hamel 5, Sierra Pete 10, Breanne Kelley 15, Riley Kenney 8, Kayla Duford 2, Nicole Davey 10.