Lady Pirates stop Mee, but Libby shooters step up
It was a difficult road week for Polson’s Lady Pirates. Though they won 51-39 in Eureka Thursday, the one they really wanted to win was Saturday’s game in Libby. Unfortunately, the Lady Pirates lost to the Lady Loggers 53-46 to slip back to 4-2 in conference play.
On Thursday, it started slow but the game warmed up in the second quarter as Polson went on a 19-7 run to take a 29-18 halftime lead.
“In the first quarter we were just trading points,” Polson head coach Randy Kelley explained. “They hit a couple of threes off our 2-3 (zone defense), so we extended our defense a bit. In the second we started to look to attack the hoop.”
Breanne Kelley had three buckets off offensive put-backs and scored 11 of her 16 points in that second quarter. Meanwhile, Eureka tried to push the ball inside, but didn’t have any luck against Polson’s zone.
The second half looked a lot like the first half, with a lot of turnovers in the third quarter before both teams started scoring in the fourth. But, Polson held on for comfortable 51-39 win.
“Defensively, we got a little fatigued and didn’t rotate very well and they caught us a few times (in the fourth quarter). They started skip passing and hit a couple long shots,” coach Kelley explained. “Also, they started to attack the hoop a little harder. They didn’t score much, but got to the free throw line and made seven of them.”
Eight Lady Pirates scored on the night, led by Kelley’s 16. Riley Kenney also had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“Riley had a good night rebounding,” Kelley noted. “Heidi Rausch also came in and got three rebounds and a bucket. She had some good minutes for us. Kayla (Duford) also came in and got some big rebounds for us. They do a good job with their roles.”
In Libby on Saturday, Polson focused a lot on post Jackie Mee, but the rest of Libby’s team stepped up to counter that defensive attention.
Libby outscored Polson 15-6 in the second quarter and 22-17 in the fourth to pull out the 53-46 win.
“Our goal was to shut down Jackie (Mee) and we did,” Kelley said, noting Mee was held to 11 points. “But Alysha Martin hit her shots (for 16 points). And then they extended their 2-3 (zone defense) on us. Kayla (Duford) hit a two-pointer at the buzzer to give us a 9-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. But, in the second (quarter) we looked fatigued and gave up a few offensive buckets. We kind of moved the ball around the perimeter and stopped attacking the hoop.”
Instead of working it inside, the Lady Pirates were taking the outside shots. Unfortunately, they didn’t fall.
“If we’d have made the outside shot, it would have been fine. But we didn’t,” Kelley said.
He noted that his defense also gave up big points in the second and fourth quarters, a trend that has him concerned.
“They didn’t doing anything different on offense ... It was just more about us getting tired,” the coach said.
“We’ve been doing that in the second and the fourth ... giving up too many points. We need to get more out of our bench and stop giving up easy shots.”
Sierra Pete led Polson with 13 points and Kelley hit for 10, followed by Mariah Hamel with eight and Kenney with eight.
“Sierra (Pete) did a real good job on defense, with Jackie (Mee) only getting two free throws in the first half. They had some girls make some big baskets, though,” Kelley said. “Alysha Martin had 13 of her 16 points in the fourth. She really put it to us. No excuses, though. We can’t give up 22 points in the fourth.”
He did say that his team did a good job of attacking the basket and getting to the line, going 14-for-19 from the charity stripe. He’d just like them to get to the line 30 times instead of 20.
“We just need to stay aggressive, offensively,” the coach said. “Defensively, though, we’ve got to have more effort from all five girls on the floor.”
Now 12-4 overall and 4-2 in conference play, Polson closes out the regular season this week with a Thursday game in Columbia Falls and a home game against Ronan Saturday — the girls play at 6:30 p.m., followed by the boys’ game.
If all goes as anticipated, Kelley expects his team will be the second seed in next week’s tournament and Libby will be the third seed, setting up a rematch between them in their first round game of the Northwestern A Divisionals. The tournament will be held Feb. 25-27 at Glacier High School in Kalispell.
Polson 51, Eureka 39
Polson 10 19 8 14–51
Eureka 11 7 3 18–39
POLSON - Kendyall Rochin 2, Mariah Hamel 2, Sierra Pete 4, Breanne Kelley 16, Riley Kenney 12, Kayla Duford 2, Nicole Davey 11, Heidi Rausch 2.
EUREKA - Taylee Holder 10, Selene Elster 2, Alyssa White 12, Courtney Dickinson 5, Cassidy Morgan 6, Steph Vogelman 4.
Libby 53, Polson 46
Polson 9 6 14 17–46
Libby 6 15 10 22–53
POLSON - Mariah Hamel 8, Sierra Pete 13, Breanne Kelley 10, Riley Kenney 8, Kayla Duford 2, Nicole Davey 4, Heidi Rausch 1.
LIBBY - LaRona Luscher 7, Alysha Martin 16, Jaime Gilden 4, Logan Best 9, Jackie Mee 11, Alex Kulbeck 6.