Defense feeds offensive runs in Lady Pirate wins
The Lady Pirates played a lot of good defense did a lot of scoring last week as Polson ran away with a pair of victories to improve to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
Polson's defense held Class AA Flathead High School to just 35 points Tuesday night, spoiling former Lady Pirate, now Flathead head coach Karly Tait's coaching debut in her former gym. The Lady Pirates executed their half-court offense very well and hit the boards hard as they cruised to a 56-35 victory.
Polson jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first quarter and built on that lead the rest of the night.
Forward Nicole Davey led Polson with 17 points, hauling in 13 rebounds on the night. She had her double-double nailed down before the first half ended and finished the game with four steals.
Post Riley Kenney also scored 11 points and Breanne Kelley also scored 11. Guard Sierra Pete slashed and popped for 12 points, plus earned seven boards and stole four balls.
Polson's 2-3 zone defense clamped down on Flathead's post, Danika Johnson, who scored just one bucket thanks to solid defense by Kenney, Pete and Davey down low.
"I'm really pleased with where we're at offensively, with four girls averaging double-figures (scoring)," Polson head coach Randy Kelley said. "Right now we've got great balance on scoring and that makes it tough on opposing teams. Nicole (Davey) had a great game, and Sierra (Pete) and Riley (Kenney) are doing a great job in our low positions in the zone (defense)."
Though the 5'7" Pete is a good candidate to play outside, she's also a solid defender and aggressive rebounder who is really shining at the low wing on defense.
"We can play Sierra up or down ... she's kind of a utility player, but she does a great job down low. She's very quick ... jumps quick and no wasted motion with her," coach Kelley noted.
The only downside in the game was Polson had 27 turnovers, pushing the ball up the floor and, at times, making bad decisions on passes. But Polson got that figured out by Saturday.
The Lady Pirates kept pressuring the ball Saturday night as they ran away from visiting Whitefish early, steamrolling the Lady Bulldogs 67-30 and committing just 12 turnovers " which is really good when you push the ball as much as we did," Kelley noted.
Polson came out and sat in a zone and worked on its 2-3 for a while. When Whitefish busted a three, the Lady Pirates shifted to a man-to-man defense and they were off and running. After a 13-3 start, Polson went on a 24-7 run in the second quarter for a 37-10 halftime lead.
"The girls did a good job and I saw a lot of good things. Sierra (Pete) scored 11 in the second quarter and Bre (Kelley) hit a big three. We just attacked the basket real well and defensively we stayed in man in the first half," Kelley explained.
Polson got to work on its half-court trap and its depth in the second half, rotating in the bench in for significant minutes over the final two quarters.
Pete led nine Polson scorers with 16 points, followed by Kelley with 14, Kenney with 13 and Davey with 12. Point guard Mariah Hamel also netted six. Davey and Kenney each finished with seven rebounds apiece and Kelley finish with five steals.
The balanced Lady Pirates now have four players in the top 10 scoring in the Northwestern A conference. Kelley is fourth at 12 points per game, followed by Davey at fifth (11.3 ppg), Kenney at seventh (10.09 ppg) and Pete in eighth (9.55 ppg).
"Looking through our shot chart, we've got four girls taking 10-13 shots a game ... and they're all balanced," Kelley noted. "Those girls shot about 50 percent from the floor. A lot of those are layups, but I thought the girls do a great job of looking for each other and move the ball really well."
The Lady Pirates will play two non-conference games against Bitterroot teams this week. After traveling to Hamilton Thursday, Polson will host Stevensville in a doubleheader Saturday, with the boys playing at around 4:30 p.m. and the girls' game following at about 6.
Polson 56, Flathead 35
Flathead 6 11 10 8–35
Polson 14 18 15 9–56
FLATHEAD - Christyne Hanson 2, Tess Brenneman 9, Taylor Keltner 2, Annie Cronk 2, Brittany Earnest 18, Danika Johnson 2.
POLSON - Mariah Hamel 3, Sierra Pete 12, Breanne Kelley 11, Riley Kenney 11, Kayla Duford 2, Nicole Davey 17.
Polson 67, Whitefish 30
Whitefish 3 7 9 11–30
Polson 13 24 15 15–67
WHITEFISH - Olivia Nagler 2, Taylor Havens 3, Jessica Slaybaugh 11, Mariah Kanistanaux 2, Karissa DeMarco 2, Jessica Poe 2, Shelby Backer 2, Danielle McCully 6.
POLSON - Kendyall Rochin 1, Mariah Hamel 6, Sierra Pete 16, Breanne Kelley 14, Riley Kenney 13, Kayla Duford 1, Nicole Davey 12, Heidi Rausch 2, Sarah Cannon 2.