Lady Bulldog basketball team takes third in Class A divisionals

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Photo by Andrew Turck

Hardin guard Kylee Old Elk flies past the basket as she makes a layup against Havre’s Blue Ponies. Through team coordination, Hardin’s Lady Bulldogs took third during the divisional tournament at MetraPark in Billings.

Photo by Jim Eshleman

Hardin’s Lady Bulldog basketball team stops for a photo after winning third place in its Class A divisional tournament. Pictured from the left are LaRae Wallace, Ivery Fritzler, Sossity Spotted Wolf, Cailei Cummins, Mashaya Alden, Charlie Bellrock, Marie Five, Bergan Realbird, Kamber Good Luck, Deidra Don’t Mix, Julianna Takes Horse (in back), Kylee Old Elk, manager Brenna Yellowmule, Breanna Old Elk, Christa Little Wolf, Alyssa Pretty Weasel (in back), and managers Dawn Wilcken and Melissa Old Crane.

Photo by Andrew Turck

Hardin post Bergan Realbird searches for a good pass Friday while flanked by Havre defenders.

Divisionals brought with it significant challenges for Hardin’s Lady Bulldog basketball team last Thursday through Saturday as they shot, blocked and drove the paint toward a third-place finish leading up to Class A state. The team claimed victory in three of four games, dropping one 48-60 on Friday to Havre’s Blue Ponies in the midst of the toughest defense the Hardin team has met thus far.

Where other teams momentarily would back off once their opponents caught an offensive rebound, the Blue Ponies dogged the Ladies on either side of the court, rarely relenting in their efforts to steal the ball.

“I think that hit us in the face the first quarter,” Hardin Head Coach Cindy Farmer said. “We’ve never played against defense that intense. We do the same thing to other teams, but no team has played that type of defense all-around.”

Though the Ladies scored the game’s first three points – entirely through free throws – during the matchup’s initial three minutes, the Blue Ponies took charge within the next minute and a half. They hit a 3-pointer, then sank six more consecutive points leading into the first quarter buzzer. Before the clock registered 5:30 in the second, Havre had tripled Hardin’s score at 15-5. By 2:57 that period, the Ladies were down 22-9.

“They could have just folded right there and been blown out by Havre,” Farmer said of the Ladies, “but they competed and contended.”

Havre’s coach became noticeably angrier as Hardin began climbing back up the scoreboard, buffered by top-shooting performances from guard Kamber Good Luck and center Marie Five with 18 points each. Good Luck managed to sink three 3-pointers during the game, the only successful ones for Hardin. Five, meanwhile, caught seven of Hardin’s 20 total rebounds – four of them from the offensive side and three from the defensive.

“Marie Five played excellent defense; she had I don’t know how many blocks,” Farmer said. Once someone starts achieving defense-wise, she added, the rest of the players “just feed off of it” and improve themselves.

Having “adjusted to the pressure,” she said, the Ladies moved up to two-thirds of Havre’s score – 18-27 – with fewer than 50 seconds to go moving into the half. Supported by cheering from the crowd, the team then tied up with the Blue Ponies with about six minutes left in the third at 29-29.

Though Hardin eventually fell behind in the fourth quarter and lost, Farmer said the Ladies took lessons from that game to defeat the Laurel Locomotives the following day.

As with the Havre game, the Ladies fell behind Laurel in the first quarter – 6-13 – but when they began moving back up, they didn’t fall back once the teams tied in the third. Rather, Hardin managed to upend Laurel 10-2 in that period, then 13-7 in the fourth.

Five, again, proved instrumental in this 42-34 victory with the top score of 14 points, followed by Good Luck with seven.

All of her players contributed to the team’s success at divisionals, Farmer said, “stepping up and giving it their all.”

On March 7, the girls are set to compete in the State Class A tournament at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. For the Ladies’ first matchup, set for 3:30 p.m. that day, they will face the Browning Indians.

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