Lady Cougars take out 10th-ranked Three Forks Wolves

By: 
Mikaela Koski
Thursday, January 24, 2019

SCN photo by Mikaela Koski

Cougar junior Brenna Rouane fights off two Wolves. Look at the bottom of our website for more photos!

There was a top-10 showdown in the Columbus High School gym over the weekend, and at the end of the evening, the third-ranked Lady Cougars came out on top over the tenth-ranked Three Forks Lady Wolves.

Saturday’s game got off to a sluggish start for both teams, but about halfway through the first quarter the Columbus offense caught a spark. The Cougars started making shots, and by the end of the first period had an 11-3 lead. Columbus held Three Forks to three free throws.

The Wolves’ offense began to find a rhythm in the second while the Cougars’ started to slow. Three Forks was able to take back some of the lead, and at halftime, Columbus was up 18-14.

The second half was a battle. The two teams fought back and forth, and going into the final minutes, the Lady Cougars still had the lead, 31-26.

Three Forks began to come back, and the Lady Wolves were able to take the 33-32 lead for the first time in the game with about 5:30 left to play. Columbus senior Morgan Kirch made a pair of free throws to grab the lead for the Cougars, 34-33, with about 5:00 left on the clock. Junior Brenna Rouane added a pair from the courtesy stripe to extend the Columbus lead to 36-33, and sophomore Trista Teeters shot two more to build a five-point cushion with 3:41 left in the game.

Down the stretch Three Forks made some big shots to keep the game close – within two at one point – but Cougar free throws ensured the victory went to Columbus. In the final three minutes of the game, the Cougars made seven free throws (Rouane – 3, Kirch – 2, Teeters – 1, and senior Alexa Riveland – 1) on the way to a 47-42 win.

Rouane led the Columbus offense with 13 points and eight rebounds. Kirch scored 10 points and Teeters contributed nine. The three girls combined to go 17-of-20 from the free throw line.

Cougar Head Coach Jeromey Burke felt his team had a strong defensive game against Three Forks, particularly against the Wolves’ star player.

“Kyle Olson is a great player, but I thought we really did a good job of making her earn every point she got,” he said.

Earlier last week, on Thursday, the Cougars fell to the Class A Laurel Lady Locomotives.

Columbus could not find an offensive rhythm, and Laurel took full advantage to go up 15-3 by the end of the first quarter. The Lady Cougars had a better second quarter, but at halftime were still down 26-12.

The second half was closer, but Columbus could not pull itself out of the hole it had dug in the first half. Laurel won the game with a 48-33 final score.

Kirch led the team with 12 points and six rebounds. Teeters scored eight, and Rouane contributed four.

Burke explained that Laurel’s tough defense caused problems throughout the evening for the Cougars, because the Locomotives “pressured us, especially in the half court, and we just never really got in the flow of the game.”

Columbus had 22 turnovers in the first half, but the Cougars were able to make adjustments and limit second half turnovers to only seven.

Despite getting down early to a good Laurel team, Burke felt the Columbus defense “turned up a bit and we managed to cut the lead to nine in the fourth quarter.”

This week, the Lady Cougars have a pair of away games. On Friday, Columbus travels to Big Timber for a nonconference matchup. Joliet hosts the Lady Cougars Saturday for the J-Hawks’ pack the house in pink night.

“Big Timber has been playing very well, and again will have a solid player in Prather we’ll have to contend with,” said Burke. “After that, we’ll be back to conference play against Joliet, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to use next weekend to continue on the track to playing our best basketball come districts.”

Columbus is currently sitting at fifth in the statewide rankings.

PARK CITY

Friday night in Park City, a Stillwater County showdown took place between the Lady Panthers and the Reed Point-Rapelje Lady Renegades.

After a slow start for both teams, RPR struck first. By the end of the first quarter, the Renegades had a 7-5 lead. Kicked off by a quick shot by junior Hayley Story followed by a three-point shot from senior Breanne Smith, the Panther offense found a spark in the second quarter. By halftime, Park City had taken the lead, 20-14.

Coming out of the break, the momentum swung back to RPR’s favor. The Renegades were able to outscore the Panthers 10-5 to get within one point heading into the final minutes of the game – 25-24.

In the fourth quarter, Park City was able to create more of a gap behind some big inside shots by senior Alyx Grabowska. In the end, the Panthers took home the 35-28 victory.

The Park City offense was led by Smith with 10 points, followed by Grabowska with eight. Seniors Kasidy Robbins and Blakely Verke, as well as sophomore Abby Hoffman, each contributed five points.

“Our press caused a lot of turnovers that helped give us momentum on the offensive end,” explained Panther Head Coach Justine Taylor. “However, it seemed like as soon as we would go on a little run, RPR would hit some key shots to keep the game close.”

Although she felt her team struggled with unforced turnovers that would negate positive plays, Taylor said, “Overall, I felt the team showed great effort and we had some players step up big for us.”

She highlighted the defensive play of sophomore Makayla Harper and some big fourth quarter points from Grabowska.

As for the Renegades, senior Jocelyn Ott led the charge with 16 points. Junior Carlee Blodgett scored seven, and senior Mercedes Hoff added five points.

RPR Head Coach Tricia Hess said her team had “too many turnovers, and we missed chances to cut Park City’s lead in the final quarter.”

On Saturday, Park City traveled to play the Roberts Rockets. The first quarter was tight, with the Panthers gaining a slight lead heading into the second, 9-8. Park City found a spark, and in the next eight minutes went on a 16-3 run to enter halftime up 25-11.

The second half was tight, but the first half damage wrought by the Panthers could not be undone. Park City finished the game with a 47-31 conference victory.

Verke led the Panthers with 13 points; Grabowska scored 10. As a team, the Panthers had 27 steals. Harper and Verke each stole the ball seven times.

“Against Roberts, I thought the girls had great intensity throughout the entire game,” Taylor noted. “We did have some players get into foul trouble early, but other girls came in and held their own.”

She thinks her team is improving with each game.

This week, Park City will face the Bridger Scouts at home on Friday. It will be a special night for the Panthers – fans are asked to wear blue as the team honors the Buckle Up Blue 4 Lauryn campaign. Lauryn Goldhahn attended kindergarten through third grade in Park City. She was killed in a rollover accident in 2016 when she was not wearing a seatbelt. The Buckle Up Blue 4 Lauryn campaign works to remind people of the importance of buckling up.

Taylor said the Panthers are going to focus on limiting turnovers and unnecessary fouls against Bridger. She mentioned, “We are going to need every player to step up for us Friday night.”

Saturday, Park City travels to Absarokee for another cross-county matchup with the Absarokee Huskies. The Panthers won the first meeting between the teams this season by one shot – 35-32.

Taylor noted Park City will need to be as physical and tough as the Absarokee players Saturday night. Sticking to Panther basketball, rather than trying to play Husky ball, will be key.

REED POINT-RAPELJE

Last Saturday, the Renegades took on the number-two team in the 6C district – the Plenty Coups Lady Warriors.

As is characteristic for the Lady Warriors, Plenty Coups came out hot from opening tipoff, and RPR had some trouble finding a rhythm and keeping up. Going into halftime, the Lady Warriors had a 43-14. The Renegades tried to come back in the second half, but Plenty Coups continued to roll all the way to a 72-22 victory.

Blodgett scored 12 points for RPR, and Ott added eight.

Hess explained the Plenty Coups game simply: “We got down by too much and couldn’t make it up.”

This week, the Renegades take a break from conference play on Thursday, when they will play the Columbus C-squad team at home. Friday, RPR travels to Harlowton to take on the Lady Engineers. The last time the two teams faced off, Harlowton won by nine points.

Hess said facing a new opponent on Thursday will be a nice change for the Renegades, and she expects the game in Harlowton to be a tough one. She noted, “We need to play a good game and not give our opponent an easy game.”

ABSAROKEE

The Huskies took on the Bridger Lady Scouts, the team sitting in first place for the 6C district, last Friday.

In the first quarter, Bridger took advantage of a slow Absarokee start for an 11-6 lead. The Scouts continued to make shots as the Huskies struggled to find a rhythm in the second quarter; going into the break, Bridger was up 26-11.

The Scouts continued to hold the momentum after halftime, and Absarokee was not able to make a comeback. Bridger won the game 48-21.

Senior Mallorey Sheppard led Absarokee’s offense with nine points. Fellow senior Makensi McCally contributed five.

Husky Head Coach Travis Frickel said the Scouts are a tough team with multiple weapons, and although Absarokee did a good job focusing on a couple key players, other Bridger girls stepped up and took advantage.

Saturday, the Huskies traveled to Clyde Park to take on the Shields Valley Lady Rebels in a nonconference game. Absarokee was unable to return home with a win, falling 50-16.

The Huskies are looking to add two conference wins to their record this week. Friday, Absarokee travels to Broadview to take on the Broadview-Lavina Lady Pirates. On Saturday, the Huskies host the Park City Lady Panthers. In the games earlier this season, Absarokee beat Broadview-Lavina 47-8 and lost to Park City 35-32.

“We have to be more consistent shooting the ball and play tough defense if we want to be successful,” Frickel noted.

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