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Pope busts loose for 30, leads Lady Vikings over Bluehawks

Charlo's Lady Vikings may not be there yet, but every week they're getting a little better.

And that's just the way their coach likes it.

Charlo head coach Bret Thompson said he's asked his team to focus on getting better with each game and his players are doing just that. The Lady Vikings put up two more victories on the board, improving to 12-2 with a 52-23 win in Arlee Friday night and a 54-41 road win over Class B Thompson Falls on Saturday.

Stephanie Maughan led a balanced Charlo offense in Arlee Friday, scoring 16 points. Guard Deondra Brown executed well, scoring 10 points off set plays, and both Kinley Pope and Jaris Kelley chipped in eight and seven points, respectively.

"I thought we played really, really well. We did a lot of good things," coach Thompson said. "I thought we were real patient, offensively. We moved the ball to the open girls and had five different girls score in the first half."

Maughan led the way with nine points in the first half, including one three-pointer and a couple of layups off open-court steals. The senior finished with seven of Charlo's 17 steals on the night. 

"Steph and Deondra (Brown) shot really well. We created a little motion in our offense and got Deondra close to the basket. Her teammates did a nice job of finding her and she did a nice job finishing for us," Thompson explained. 

Charlo's man-to-man defense also held Arlee to single-digit scoring in all four quarters. 

But the Lady Vikings' defense went a little south on them early Saturday in Thompson Falls. The Lady Bluehawks jumped out to a 16-8 run in the first quarter that stunned Charlo.

"It didn't start off very well for us. We gave up a couple of easy buckets, something we're not used to. We got down on ourselves and missed a couple of long-range buckets, maybe what you could consider a little impatient," coach Thompson explained. "We were down 19-9 (early in the second quarter) and I called a timeout. I told the girls we needed to cut (Thompson Falls') lead in half by halftime."

The Lady Vikings did just that and more, actually tying the game at 22-22 before Thompson hit a bucket in the final seconds of the second quarter to go back up 24-22.

"They gave us a place to shoot, but I wasn't getting them in the right spot. We made some changes and Kinley (Pope) was the one who benefited the most from it," Thompson explained. 

Thompson made a little change with his post players on offense and had his guards stepping out a little to open up some lanes. That opened the door of opportunity for Pope inside, who capitalized with 30 points on the night, a career high.

"A lot of those points were off Kinley's offensive boards (six in the game) and she did a good job of getting to the basket," Thompson said. "The first time we played (Thompson Falls) we beat them with threes. They were worried about that but our girls figured out they had to change (their offensive approach) and did a good job of getting it inside. And it doesn't hurt when Steph has three threes in the first half, so they had to come out on us."

Charlo had "a ton" of rebounds, 35 by the team and 14 from Pope alone. 

"And we were not the taller team," Thompson noted. "After that first quarter when we were shell-shocked, the girls did a good job of putting the ball in where we had the best opportunity to score. And we shot well at the free throw line ... Over the first three quarters we were 10-for-12."

Other than allowing the Bluehawks 16 points in the first quarter, the Lady Vikings' man defense did a good job. 

"Defensively, we played well and didn't give up a lot of cheap things. We ended up with a couple of kids in foul trouble, but I saw improvement over last week," the coach said. "We just need to continue every week and improve and try to be playing our best basketball by the time the tournaments get here."

Charlo will close out the regular season with two home games and, hopefully, keep improving as it prepares for the tournament season. The Lady Vikings host Philipsburg on Thursday and St. Regis on Friday. Both are double-headers, with the boys playing at 5:30 p.m. and the girls going at it at 7.

The following week, Charlo will play in the District 14C basketball tournament at the Ronan Event Center Feb. 18-20.

Summary

Charlo 52, Arlee 23
Charlo 17 12 15 8–52
Arlee 4 6 9 4–23

CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 16, Rachel Hoyt 2, Dawn Blevins 6, Kinley Pope 8, Deondra Brown 10, Courtney Couture 3, Jaris Kelley 7.
ARLEE - Tiffany O’Neil 2, Chelsea Allaire 9, Melissa Ivanoff 6, Mahala Hendren 4, Kristyn Adams 2.

Charlo 54, Thompson Falls 41
Charlo 8 14 21 11–54
T. Falls 16 7 7 11–41

CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 12, Rachel Hoyt 4, Dawn Blevins 2, Kinley Pope 30, Courtney Couture 2, Jaris Kelley 4.
THOMPSON FALLS - Kelsey Fitchett 12, Beca Gunderson 2, Karli Cavill 12, Kyla Molzhon 15.

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