Lady Bulldogs defeat Shepherd, lose to Billings Central

Thursday, January 10, 2019
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Photo by Andrew Turck

Hardin Head Coach Cindy Farmer coaches her players during the final minute of the team’s match-up with Billings Central. The Lady Bulldogs fell to Central’s Rams in a close, 43-49 game.

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Photo by Tommy Robinson

Hardin’s Breanna Old Elk drives past a Billings Central defender Saturday at MetraPark.

Hardin’s Lady Bulldogs got the opportunity to stretch out a bit Friday, with plenty of team rotations, for a 70-27 victory in basketball at an away game against the Shepherd Mustangs. In the non-conference match-up, the Ladies began with a full-court press on the opposing team, but – as they gained a 49-14 lead by the second quarter – backed off to work on their halfcourt defense.

Cindy Farmer, head coach for the Ladies, said the Mustangs didn’t press Hardin very often, leading to an imbalance in team possessions. Hardin’s 17 steals during the game, she added, “led to some easy baskets.”

“We only had – which was amazing – three turnovers,” she said. “We caused 27.”

Guard Ivery Fritzler led the Ladies in shots with 17, followed by center Marie Five with 16 and guard Kamber Good Luck with 11.

Billings Central’s Rams brought a stronger challenge, defeating the Ladies 49-43 in Hardin’s second loss this season. This conference game was played in stadium-sized settings Saturday evening at Metra-Park in Billings.

Hardin kept within a point of the Rams for three of the four quarters’ scores, but fell behind in the second at 15-8.

“We came out on the losing end of it, but any time we can learn from a loss, it’s going to help us down the road,” Farmer said. “We didn’t shoot as well as we could have, but give credit to Central’s defense.

“Rebounding, I thought they out-muscled us on getting second shot opportunities. We can’t allow that, especially against a team like Central.”

The Rams doubleteamed Five – often the Hardin player who scores the most shots – and, according to Farmer, “we just weren’t reading the pass out of that.”

Hardin also ran into “foul trouble,” Farmer said, taking 20 fouls through the game to Central’s nine. This gave the Rams 24 chances to shoot free throws, more than double the Ladies’ 11. The spread of fouls called on the teams was questionable, Farmer acknowledged, “but you have to play through that.”

To Hardin’s credit, the team managed to score eight of its free throws and maintain a 72 percent average in that category, more than double its roughly 30 percent average from the beginning of the season. The Ladies’ overall field goal percentage was somewhat low for them, however, at 31 percent.

Billings Central plays similar to Hardin, Farmer said, “with a strong inside game.” Though the Ladies didn’t have significant trouble with the Rams’ press, she continued, her own team’s press had several rotations that left “open looks to the basket.”

“I thought we needed to be more aggressive going to the basket,” she said, “and then aggressive blocking out and limiting second shot opportunities.”

Next time the Ladies play the Rams, she said, they need to prepare “to pass out of that double team” on Five.

Guard Mashaya Alden gained the top score for Hardin against the Rams with eight points, followed by Five with seven, and guard Kylee Old Elk tied with Fritzler at six.

On Thursday, Jan. 10, the Ladies will face Lodge Grass High School in an away game at 6 p.m., followed by a second away game at 4 p.m. Saturday in Lewistown.