Aggressive defense, patient offense leads to Charlo wins
CHARLO — The Lady Vikings earned another pair of wins last week with a 35-23 road victory in Plains on Tuesday and 36-27 win at home over Noxon on Saturday night.
Charlo had to work for every point in Plains, taking a 10-4 first quarter lead that the Lady Vikings built into an 18-8 halftime lead.
"We didn't shoot a lot. It was a combination of good defense and slowing the game down," Charlo head coach Bret Thompson explained. "We used a little of everything to try to get some offense going."
Plains packed it in a bit with a 1-2-2 zone defense that switched occasionally to a 1-3-1.
"We had a lot of shot opportunities and did a good job of creating shots. We got the ball inside, but we didn't get many second chances," Thompson said. "We did not get a lot of offensive rebounds ... We had lot of opportunities but we got caught standing around a lot."
But the Lady Vikings remained purposeful on offense and steady on defense, holding Plains to 15 second-half points as Charlo patiently worked its way to a 35-23 win.
Kinley Pope led Charlo with 11 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Stephanie Maughan with six points and seven boards, and Dawn Blevins with six points and a game-high five steals.
"We shot 11-for-41 from the floor and I don't think there was one shot we took that wasn't a good shot. Just one of those nights," Thompson said.
The Lady Vikings returned home to take on Noxon Saturday night, building another comfortable 24-12 first-half lead and slowing down the game in the second half to secure a 36-27 conference win.
Charlo's defense set the tone early, holding Noxon to three points in the first quarter.
"In the first quarter I thought we did a great job defensively. We were very patient on offense and taking a good shot," Thompson said. "We did a good job of attacking the basket in the second quarter and got a lot of free throws," the coach added.
Noxon battled back in the third quarter, scoring 12 points and cutting Charlo's lead to seven until Maughan drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter with a 34-24 Charlo lead.
In the fourth with three of his starters with four fouls, Thompson took the air out of the ball and ran his box offense, a patient variant of the four corners.
"(Noxon) packed it in the zone and wouldn't come out of it ... so we ran our box and waited for them to come out. That's an advantage when you're ahead," Thompson explained.
The end result was the Lady Vikings patiently waited for an opening and ran minutes off the clock with each possession. While Noxon managed one bucket and went 1-for-4 from the line, Charlo hit two of five free throws to secure the 36-27 win.
"It was one of those games ... it was hard to get into a rhythm. It was frustrating," Thompson said. "When I tell the girls we we're taking the air out of the ball they never want to do that. But they didn't have any problem with it that night."
It ended up being a free throw game, with Charlo going 12-for-16 from the line in the first half and 4-for-7 in the second half.
"In the fourth I don't believe we turned the ball over ... the one we had we got back at half-court. The only time we gave (the ball) back was at the free throw line," coach Thompson said. "But we made enough (free throws), I guess."
Pope led Charlo with 13 points, with four of Charlo's total nine field goals and a 5-for-7 performance at the free throw line. Maughan had a pair of threes and a free throw for seven, and Kelley spread seven points over the first three quarters.
"I was happy with the way the girls played. We were only 9-for-30 shooting ... just a weird game. We had good shots, but nothing off offensive boards. Noxon really packed it in. From the three-point-line to about 15 feet we could shoot anything we wanted," Thompson explained.
But what he really liked to see was how his older players took charge of the ball when the pressure picked up in the fourth quarter.
"I was really happy in the second half with Steph (Maughan) and Jaris (Kelley) with ball control. For the first time in the year they really understood their role as far as handling the ball for us," the coach said. "They went out and got the ball and did a good job of getting the young girls out of there so they didn't have to be forced to make a decision. That's going to get us a long way this year."
This week the 11-1 Lady Vikings have two more conference games, in Pablo Friday against a rising Two Eagle River team (girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7) and in Hot Springs on Saturday (boys at 4:30 p.m., girls at 6) against the only team to beat Charlo this season.
Thompson said he is impressed with the Lady Eagles, who played Noxon close and beat Philipsburg last week.
Hot Springs beat Charlo 40-33 right before the Christmas break in an early game between the two best District 14C teams. The Lady Vikings are heading west hoping for revenge against their rivals.
"I don't think either team played real well when we played here (in Charlo)," Thompson noted. "I know I definitely wasn't happy with our offensive effort, but a lot of that has to do with defenses. You have to have girls step up and hit some shots."
Charlo 35, Plains 23
Charlo 10 8 8 9–35
Plains 4 4 11 4–23
CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 6, Rachel Hoyt 2, Dawn Blevins 6, Kinley Pope 11, Deondra Brown 5, Courtney Couture 1, Jaris Kelley 4.
PLAINS - Lacey Hermiston 6, Kelsey Beagley 7, Malena Sweet 4, Laurel Danhof 2, Kayla Revier 2, Alexis Kunzer 2.
Charlo 36, Noxon 27
Noxon 3 9 12 3–27
Charlo 11 13 10 2–36
NOXON - Ashley Wiltse 2, Stephanie Larkin 14, Rachel Stettler 7, Jordyn Wilkinson 2, Karlynn Theirrian 2.
CHARLO - Stephanie Maughan 7, Rachel Hoyt 4, Dawn Blevins 2, Kinley Pope 13, Deondra Brown 3, Jaris Kelley 7.