WORDEN — Huntley Project junior Paige Lofing poured in 31 points to lead top-ranked Huntley Project to a win over No. 3 Baker on Tuesday night in Worden, 60-48.
Lofing scored 19 points in the first half as the Red Devils led 34-17 at halftime after bottling up Baker superstar sophomore Madison O'Connor. That didn't last long, as O'Connor caught fire in the third quarter and helped pull Baker within eight. O'Connor finished with 33 points.
"(O'Connor) is just a great player. She does a lot of things on both ends of the floor. She's one of those players who is just kind of unstoppable, so we have 10 eyes on her," Huntley Project head coach Mandy Morales said. "I think we've got to communicate better on the defensive end. ... We've got to be able to react and talk."
Morales' squad buckled down late, and while the Baker defense sent multiple defenders at Lofing, the other Red Devils made the Spartans pay. Sannah Windy Boy added 14 points for Project, while Spartan other than O'Connor scored more than five.
In a rematch of last year's consolation game at the State B tournament won by Baker, Project took Round 1 as the teams will meet multiple times now being in the same district. Though the Red Devils have no seniors, they didn't back away from the big moment.
"I thought our energy was not as much for a home game, but it was a huge test for our girls to show where we're at right now," Morales said.
Project is now 8-0 on the season and will host Columbus on Friday. Baker falls to 6-2, with its other loss coming against Class A Miles City, and will visit Colstrip Friday.