The quest for a berth at the state tournament this weekend in Butte had not been determined at press time. Hamilton finished second at the Southwestern A tournament in Butte but Stevensville earned the right to challenge the Lady Broncs. That challenge game was Monday night in Corvallis. (See www.bitterrootstar.com for the outcome and details of that game.)
The tournament was a weekend of extreme highs and lows for the Lady Yellowjackets of Stevensville. They opened against Corvallis on Thursday. Prior to the game, Corvallis had only won one game this season. But the Blue Devils were on fire, and the ‘Lady Jackets were not.
“The girls came out not to lose, that first part against Corvallis and Corvallis took advantage of it,” said Brandon Day, coach of the Lady Yellowjackets.
Corvallis took a four-point lead into the locker room at the half and then held off a surging Stevensville team to win, 35-33. Alycia Sims, Stevensville’s post player, said she thought her team was not clicking to begin with. “We were off to start off with and then everyone went into their hole and didn’t want the ball. It just went downhill from there.”
Corvallis was led by Lakyn Connors who scored 13 points. Jordan Miller added 10 in the win.
“The last week, they really came together and started to believe in themselves,” said Corvallis coach Jay Jessop. “They had confidence in each other. Unfortunately it was right at the end.”
Corvallis 35, Stevensville 33
Corvallis – Lakyn Connors 13, Carlie Jessop 2, Courtney Albright 5, Chelsi Clark 4, Jordan Miller 10, Sydonia Curtis 1.
Stevensville – Kyla Paulsen 4, Alycia Sims 14, Bailey Vercruyssen 4, Carly Sebastian 4, Carly Vercruyssen 4, Courtney Tvedt 3.
Corvallis then advanced to the semi finals where they met up with Hamilton. The Blue Devils stayed with Hamilton for a quarter before the Lady Broncs broke lose. They went on to win, 55-34.
Hamilton coach Mark Albert had high praise for Corvallis. “We got their best. And they got the jitters out yesterday. This was our first tournament game ever.”
The Lady Broncs showed a bit of nervousness in their first game of the season but soon shook it off. Although they built up a sizable lead, Albert said he didn’t really play it safe until the last two minutes of the game when he subbed in his more inexperienced players. Taylor Goligoski led all scorers with 23 points. Jaylee Albert had 10 rebounds for Hamilton and Sami Kratofil swatted two blocks.
Corvallis was led by Connors who had 13 points. Miller, Carlie Jessop and Connors each had six rebounds.
Hamilton 55, Corvallis 34
Corvallis – Courtney Albright 6, Connors 13, Miller 4, C. Jessop 10, Kayla Lewis 1.
Hamilton – Taylor Goligoski 23, Kali Hayes 10, Sami Kratofil 5, Jaylee Albert 10, Bri Huggans 2, McKayl Rothie 3, Ellie Hurlbert 2.
After losing to Corvallis, Stevensville had to come back through the loser bracket. They took on Anaconda Saturday morning at the Butte Civic Center. At first, Stevensville was a bit tentative but came out strongly in the third quarter. Sims hit a long shot to give Stevensville an edge but the Copperheads wouldn’t back off. The game was tied with 35 seconds remaining. Sims hit two free throws to put Stevensville up, 40-38, with nine seconds remaining. A last shot by Anaconda went into the basket and then rolled back out at the buzzer, giving Stevensville the win. Sims finished with 21 points. Kayla Peterson, who had not played in the Corvallis game, was back from being ill and made a difference according to Coach Day.
Stevensville then had to play Dillon for third place. Both teams were tired but Stevensville seemed to find their legs and put up 16 points in the fourth quarter to win, 49-37.
“It actually turned out alright for us, with Kayla (Peterson) being sick. Gave her an extra day off to get healthy,” said Day. “The girls really stepped up. This morning was a really tough game. Anaconda played really hard like they always do and it was a battle to the end. Dillon is always tough. Tonight was the best I’ve seen them play.”
Sims finished with 21 points and Kyla Paulsen had 17 points.
Hamilton took on Butte Central in the championship game. Butte Central has played in the state championship game in the last two years. They are a senior-laden team according to Albert, while his team has only one junior and the rest are sophomores.
The Maroons came out strongly and built up a nine-point lead in the first quarter. They went on to win, 44-32. Goligoski had 23 points.
“We’re just happy to still be playing,” said Albert. He also said that Monday’s game was not a given. “Stevensville is playing really well. The kids played really hard. There was some good girls’ basketball. The better team won tonight. No doubt. “