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Early pressure sets up 51-26 Lady Pirate win over Maidens

POLSON — The Lady Pirates are still trying to gel after returning from the holiday break, but they picked up a conference win last week and tested themselves against a good Class AA squad.

Polson put up 34 points in the first half to take control early in a 51-26 win in Ronan last Tuesday night, then sputtered a bit late Saturday night for a 65-40 loss at home to Class AA Glacier.

The Lady Pirates put a lot of pressure on the Maidens early on Tuesday night, keying a 34-15 first half run. 

"They're young and we knew that. So we put some pressure on them and got some quick layups early," Polson head coach Randy Kelley said. "We tried to take (Nina) Orozco out with Sierra (Pete) with a box-and-one (defense). Defensively it worked out well for us. I thought we played real strong in the first six minutes. Then we got into a bit of a lull ... we just weren't getting after it."

The Lady Pirates didn't shoot particularly well in the second half and they got in a little foul trouble. Then they quit attacking the basket and their scoring dropped to 17 in the second half, though they cruised to a 51-26 win.

Riley Kenney had a solid double-double on the night with 15 points and 12 rebounds for Polson. Breanne Kelley added 12 and Pete hit for eight points.

"Riley had a good game ... That first half she really owned the middle and got a lot of good looks under the hoop," coach Kelley said. "She had six offensive rebounds and put a few of those back. She worked hard on defensive positioning, too, and it paid off for her."

Polson also shot 15-for-19 from the free throw line, an encouraging performance that the Lady Pirates continued early on Saturday night against Glacier.

Polson went 4-for-4 from the stripe in the first quarter and shot well from the floor to tie Glacier 13-13 at the end of the first quarter.

"They shot well (but) we came out strong and moved the ball well. We hit some shots and hit our free throws and things were rolling," Kelley said. 

But Glacier took over the momentum late in the second period. Pete gave Polson a 21-19 lead off a driving pull-up jumper with 1:34 remaining in the first half. But Glacier responded two buckets and a three-pointer after Polson misses or turnovers, giving the Wolfpack a 26-21 halftime lead.

Glacier kept rolling in the third quarter, scoring 19 while the Lady Pirates blinked in the final four minutes of the third. Kenney scored underneath off a great dish from Pete with 57 seconds left in the third, but Glacier had built a 45-31 lead and never relented.

The Wolfpack rattled off 20 points, while the tired-looking Lady Pirates managed just eight down the stretch for the 65-40 loss.

Davey finished with 10 points, while Pete and Kenney had nine each and Kelley scored seven.

Polson shot 38 percent from the inside the arc and made two of six three-pointers, but the Lady Pirates shot just 12-for-29 from the line and committed way too many turnovers, especially at key times.

"We came out in the third and attacked them, but we couldn't convert free throws. We missed a lot of baskets in the second half, a lot of uncontested layups," coach Kelley said. "I thought we had some good looks, but I think if we'd have converted at the free throw line it would have been closer. We kind of panicked after we got down 12."

Polson only had three offensive rebounds on the night and only had seven steals.

"That's about half the steals we usually get," Kelley said.

The 21 turnovers sure didn't help, either.

Kelley said his team has to work on its man-to-man offense and its man-to-man defense. Glacier hit too many outside shots against the zone and got too many layups against Polson's man defense.

"I think we got a little tired again ... and they backed their press off to almost half-court. And we had trouble directing with even that. We need to D-up a little better ... Giving up 65 points you're not going to win many games doing that," Kelley noted.

The coach said Davey is starting to look for her shot and Pete was consistent again, driving, scoring and dishing. 

"We just need to get everybody playing hard again," Kelley said.

Polson got some good news of sorts last week when forward Marlee Berry's knee injury was diagnosed as a dislocated kneecap instead of an ACL tear. On Saturday night she still couldn't straighten her leg, but she said she's hoping she might back by divisional tournament time. 

In the meantime, Kelley has been rotating some of his younger players into the lineup, including freshman Heidi Rausch and sophomore Sarah Cannon.

"Heidi has been playing hard for us and we've brought up Sarah Cannon. Maybe we'll have more depth down the stretch," Kelley said. 

But Kelley said his team just needs to get back its attitude and fire.

"We're kinda missing our spunk ... We were getting after it harder early in the season," the coach said. "We're going to have a nice long film session and see if we can fix a few things."

The Lady Pirates, now 5-2 overall and 2-0 in conference, will get back at it with two home games this week, against Eureka on Thursday and Libby on Saturday. 



Polson 51, Ronan 26
Polson 19 15 9 8–51
Ronan11 4 4 7–26

POLSON - Kendyall Rochin 2, Mariah Hamel 5, Sierra Pete 8, Breanne Kelley 12, Riley Kenney 15, Nicole Davey 7, Sarah Cannon 2.
RONAN - Courtney Clairmont 2, Jonna Grant 8, Alice Van Gunten 4, Nina Orozco 4, Tailyr Irvine 3, Taylor Lynch 2, Ashley Grandchamp 3, Katie Andrews 4.


Glacier 65, Polson 40
Glacier 13 13 19 20–65
Polson 13 8 11 8–40

GLACIER - Rachel Cutler 8, Paige Latimer 17, Cami Mathison 3, Sydney Sharaf 5, Nicole Heavirland 4, Baylee Quay 13, Patty Hughes 6, Brooke Watkins 5, McKell Bennett 4.
POLSON - Sierra Pete 9, Breanne Kelley 7, Riley Kenney 9, Kayla Duford 5, Nicole Davey 10. 

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