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Lady Pirates out of sync in 52-47 loss at Stevi

STEVENSVILLE — The Christmas break took its toll on Polson's Lady Pirate basketball team and it showed in a close-but-no-cigar 52-47 in Stevensville Saturday afternoon.

Just when they needed it most, the Lady Pirates were missing forward Nicole Davey, who was not yet back from visiting family, and may have lost fellow forward Marlee Berry for the season. Berry injured her knee three days earlier at practice while running a three-man weave drill. 

Missing two of their inside girls didn't help as Polson tried to battle against the Lady Yellowjackets' phenom post, freshman Alycia Sims. Sims led Stevensville with 18 points and, like her teammates, played a very physical game that Polson found hard to defend.

The Lady Pirates hung around in the first half, trailing by just three (21-18) at the half. But Stevi went on a 14-5 run in the third quarter to pull ahead 35-23. 

"We played decent enough to hang around in the first and second period. But in the third we looked tired," Polson head coach Randy Kelley said. "Defensively they mostly went man, but when they went to the 1-3-1 zone our girls did a good job. We just quit attacking the hoop in the third for some reason."

But the Lady Pirates got aggressive on both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter. Guard Sierra Pete opened the quarter with a steal and lay-in, then drove the baseline for another layup on the next possession.

Mariah Hamel popped a three, then post Riley Kenney scored underneath the basket on a pretty inbound play to pull Polson within four (37-33) at the 5:38 mark. 

But Sims keyed a seven-point run in the final three minutes that kept the Jackets far enough ahead for the win, despite Kelley's two late steals and layups, and a jumper by Hamel as Stevi held on for the 52-47 win.

Polson shot okay from the floor, going 16-44 with 3-for-3 shooting beyond the arc. But, they hit just six of 15 free throw attempts.

Kelley led Polson with 15 points, while Pete had 14 points and six steals. Hamel netted nine and Kenney scored six, plus hauled in six rebounds.

"Not only offensively but defensively Sierra did some good things for us and kept us around," coach Kelley said about Pete's performance. "That's good to see. We need her to be playing like that and have Bre (Kelley) pick it up, then get Nicole (Davey) back."

Kelley admits his team doesn't have a lot of size or depth, so having big rebounders like Davey and Berry out makes a big difference.

"Their size did give us problems at times, but I thought being out of defensive position was the difference ... I just thought we were a little bit out of sync on defense," the coach said. "Plus Sims is a handful. She's a good ballplayer. She's real quick off the dribble, a lot quicker than I thought she was. You could tell she played a lot of ball with the boys down there."

Polson also had a few more turnovers than usual. 

"We weren't as focused as we were in our first four games. We need to look at the bigger picture, rather than possession. We need to get back to basics ... rebounding, defense and taking better care of the ball," Kelley said. "But credit Stevi. I thought they did a great job running man-to-man against us. We'll go back to work and see if we can clean a few things up. I don't know if we'll have Marlee (Berry) back or not, but we'll have Nicole (Davey) back (this week). So, we're in the search mode for a few younger girls to step in."

Now 4-1 overall, Polson played in Ronan Tuesday night and will be back at home on Saturday to host a doubleheader against Kalispell's Glacier High. The girls play at 4:30 p.m. and the boys go at it at 6.

Summary

Stevensville 52, Polson 47
Polson 9 9 5 24–47
Stevi 13 8 14 17–52

POLSON - Mariah Hamel 9, Sierra Pete 14, Brianne Kelley 15, Riley Kenney 6, Kayla Duford 3.

STEVI - McKenzie Sebastian 8, Jessica Brunett 2, Brekka Johnson 5, Alexa Omlid 5, Maddie Jones 5, Blaire Brookshire 9, Alycia Sims 18.

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