Huskies state run done after 2 games
After delivering a surprise knockout to Park City at the divisional tournament and earning a place at the Class C girls state tournament in Great Falls, Absarokee went 2-0 against two top-ranked teams.
The last time the Husky girls went to state was 20 years ago in the 1995-1996 season, Absarokee head coach Travis Frickel said.
“The past couple weeks have been a blast and a great boost to our girls basketball program,” he said.
The tournament started with a bang as two 24-0 teams – the Broadview-Lavina Pirates and the Plentywood Wildcats – ran into brick walls on March 10 and headed down the loser-out brackets.
For the Absarokee Huskies, the brick wall was the 23-2 Belt Huskies – third at state in 2015, state champs in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the eventual winner of the championship game this year against Box Elder.
Absarokee came into the Husky vs. Husky game after finishing fourth at the District 6C tourney and second at the Southern C divisional tourney.
“Everybody who’s in the state tournament is going to be a really good team,” Frickel said. “We knew we had a tough draw in Round 1 with the Belt Huskies. We played them tough and had their lead down to six points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but we just couldn’t make the big shots that we were able to make at the district and divisional tournaments.”
The Belt girls went on a run right off the bat, outscoring Absarokee 14-5 in the first quarter and 25-15 by halftime. Belt junior guard Kerstyn Pimperton scored a game-high 20, with 9-of-10 free-throw shooting.
Absarokee came out stronger after the half with 15 points in the third stanza, but they finished the game with a weak 8-point fourth quarter. Belt never relinquished the lead and led by as many as 17 points.
Senior Maisey Sheppard led Absarokee with 12 points, followed by senior Emma Chandler with 10. Junior Katrina Feddes and freshman Mallorey Sheppard each chipped in six more.
Absarokee posted 31 percent shooting from the field for the game, compared to 35 percent by Belt. But Belt out rebounded Absarokee 36-28, doing especially well on defense.
Next up in the loser-out bracket, Absarokee faced the 25-1 Wildcats, losing 56-39. It had been 37 years since Plentywood had played at state, and they were led by Victoria Obergfell’s 19 points, six assists and three steals.
The Wildcats pulled ahead from the get-go and never turned back, at one point holding a 34-12 lead.
Chandler led the Huskies with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Maisey Sheppard had 12 points, but was cold from beyond the 3-point arc, shooting 3-for-14. Feddes and junior Erin Chambell chipped in four points apiece.
Absarokee shot 25 percent from the field, compared to 48 percent by the Wildcats. Plentywood also pulled in more rebounds, 34-26.
“Their pressure was fantastic, and mix that in with our poor shooting in the first half and we could never quite overcome their lead,” Frickel said. “But I was still extremely proud of all of my players, managers and coaches. What we