HELENA — Five players scored in double digits as No. 7 Carroll College routed Calumet St. Joseph (Ind.) 81-34 on Thursday afternoon in the third annual field trip game for Rachelle Sayers and the Fighting Saints. Twelve area elementary and middle schools packed the P.E. Center, bringing the game’s attendance to nearly ?.
Sophomore point guard Jaidyn Lyman led all scorers with 16 points, while adding two steals and two rebounds. All five Carroll starters reached double digits — Dani Wagner (13 points), Cassidy Kosena (12), Hannah Dean (11) and Christine Denny (11) — as the Saints won their first official contest of the season. Carroll dropped an exhibition game, 71-56, on Tuesday.
Dean had a game-high nine rebounds in the win, while Denny dished five assists in front of the 2,500 students on hand. Buses from Broadwater Elementary School, Bryant Elementary School, Butte Central Catholic Schools, East Valley Middle School, Helena Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School, Kessler Elementary School, Montana City Schools, Prickly Pear Elementary School, Radley Elementary School, Rossiter Elementary School and Warren Elementary School littered the Carroll College parking lot, with students cheers echoing throughout the P.E. Center, the true definition of homecourt advantage according to the Saints.
“The kids really lived up to my expectations, for sure. They told me it was going to be really loud, they told me we weren’t going to be able to hear, we just were going to have do our best to communicate with each other because we weren’t going to be able to hear coach all the way over on the sideline,” said freshman guard Sienna Swannack, who was playing in her first field trip game. “My biggest responsibility today was to be as vocal with my teammates and as big of a leader as I could be as a freshman. Coming in, it was my job to step up and be a leader today.”
“It’s exciting. For me, obviously, it’s fun to see that we brought this to Carroll and the state of Montana and we’re the first school that started to do it,” said Sayers, who began the tradition in 2016. “I wish we had more seats because I think we could continue to grow it, but unfortunately packing the house is about as good as we’re going to do. It’s fun, it’s just a fun atmosphere. It gets us ready for what we’re going to see on Friday, Gonzaga, we’re hearing, is sold out and then Montana State has their field trip game next Tuesday that we’re playing in, so it was definitely a good game before we go there.”
Sayers and the Saints meet Gonzaga at 5 p.m. MST on Friday. They return to the P.E. Center next Friday against The Master’s University (Calif.) in a 7 p.m. contest.