DeWit sisters prove to be pain in the paint for Lady Pirates
POLSON — It was the game of the week, the marquee matchup between the top two Northwestern A girls' basketball teams.
But it turned out to be not much of a contest. Instead, it was a lickin' that went the wrong way for Polson's Lady Pirates.
The Columbia Falls Wildkats came to Polson last Thursday tied with the Lady Pirates for the lead in the conference. But they went back home with a dominating 61-40 victory over Polson that sent a message to the rest of the conference that they are the team to beat.
The Lady Pirates struggled to find consistent scoring against Columbia Falls' 1-2-2 zone defense and could not contain the DeWit sisters on the other end of the court. Kayla DeWit led Columbia Falls with 25 points, while her sister, Kelsey, hit for 13 and guard Shay Grilley scored 12.
The DeWit girls controlled the boards all night and choked up the paint on defense, forcing Polson to commit 20 turnovers on the night.
Polson was down nine (25-16) at the half and hoped to recover in the second half, but Grilley sparked a 12-3 run by the Wildcats that put Columbia Falls up 37-19.
That took the wind out of the Lady Pirates' sails.
And while the Wildcats continued to execute their offense, Polson struggled to keep up. Columbia Falls pulled away with a pair of 18-point quarters for the 61-40 win.
"Kelsey (DeWit) does some good things as far as rebounding, but Kayla is really active, a lot more than I recognized scouting them. She's a handful," Polson head coach Randy Kelley said. "When you don't shoot very well — and we didn't — it's tough with those two inside. It was definitely a tough task. With a team like that, you have to be firing on all cylinders."
Kelley said the team's plan was to pack it in with a 2-3 zone defense and lend some help on the inside against the DeWit girls. But what he didn't take into account was Kayla's long-range ability.
"You don't normally want to send a girl out on a 6-2 girl on the wing, but Kayla definitely kept us guessing. She definitely hurt us, inside and out," Kelley explained. "And she wasn't the only one. Shay Grilley hit two big threes in the third ... to see them go on that 8-0 run really put us back on our heels."
Seven Lady Pirates scored, but only one was in double-figures, with Mariah Hamel putting up 11 points. Overall, Polson was just out of sync.
"I'm sure they out-rebounded us. We only had five steals and just one assist ... We were just in a funk and couldn't get out of it. No rhythm," coach Kelley concluded.
But, he will try to get his team to take the loss and improve from it.
"It definitely puts us in a place where we need to be," Kelley explained, noting that the loss identified weaknesses his team will have to correct quickly. "A shooting night like that can happen anytime, but our defense has to get better. It probably wasn't our best game plan against their 1-2-2 (zone defense) and that's my fault. But our girls put in a full day's work. And it gives us something offensively to shoot for."
Now 11-3, 4-1 in conference, the fifth-ranked Lady Pirates will get back to work in preparation for this week's games — two road games in Eureka Thursday and Libby on Saturday.
"We've got a lot of work to do. We just have to take care of one possession at a time," Kelley concluded.
Columbia Falls 61, Polson 40
C. Falls 13 12 18 18–61
Polson 9 7 13 11–40
COLUMBIA FALLS - Ashley Fairbank 6, Kayla DeWit 25, Brooke Cady 3, Shay Grilley 12, Jonna Warner 2, Kelsey DeWit 13.
POLSON - Mariah Hamel 11, Sierra Pete 6, Breanne Kelley 5, Riley Kenney 7, Kayla Duford 3, Nicole Davey 7, Heidi Rausch 1.