GREAT FALLS — The Eastern C prepared the Scobey girls for this moment.
The Spartans played a challenging schedule this season, and it paid dividends Thursday as they rolled past Arlee 65-40 in the first round of the Class C girls basketball state tournament at Pacific Steel & Recycling Four Seasons Arena.
“It helps, obviously, any time you can get some games to prepare yourself for this environment,” said Scobey head coach Jedd Lekvold. “We were fortunate enough to play some teams — we got Plentywood early, Turner early in the first game of the year out of the North, Wolf Point twice and, of course, the divisional tournament we ran into Savage. Savage is a very, very good team, a very dangerous team and very well-coached team and they have a lot of weapons. It is a grind to get out of the East, as well, so we’re no slouch. I know the North is tough, but the East has been difficult to get out of the last several years.”
Scobey, the No. 1 seed out of the East, and Arlee, the No. 2 seed out of the West, exchanged baskets in the first quarter before the Spartans started to impose their will in the second. Kortney Nelson scored 15 points and swiped four steals in the first half as Scobey became the aggressor to build a 31-21 advantage.
“I was a little nervous right away, but after we got into it, it was good,” Nelson said. “We got on a run, so we all kind of fed off that. … We all kind of pitch in whenever we need it. We get on runs and that’s good.”
It continued into the second half. Nelson went from scorer to facilitator, helping ShaAnn Danelson and Gracee Lekvold heat up. The Spartans made 13 of 19 second-half field goal attempts, with Danelson and Gracee Lekvold combining for 16 points after the break.
“That’s kind of how it’s been. Kortney gets us going, she decides she wants to get after it right away and she gets us going,” Jedd Lekvold said. “It’s almost like she lets everyone else get involved. I don’t know if that’s by design, but that’s kind of the way it’s been.”
Scobey ballooned the lead to as many as 29 points in the second half, beating Arlee in every statistical category — free throws, 3-pointers, rebounds and points off turnovers. The Scarlets made just 1 of 20 3-point attempts Thursday. Alyssia Vanderburg had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead Arlee, which falls to loser-out action and will meet Wibaux at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
Nelson finished with a game-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists and four steals for Scobey, which also got 16 points from Danelson and 13 from Gracee Lekvold.
The Spartans will next play Roy-Winifred in the semifinal round on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
“We’re up for the challenge. We have to be, OK?” Jedd Lekvold said. “The Northern C is so tough, it’s been tough for the last six years. We know that and understand that, it’s a grind for them just to get to state. They have several teams in the division that are good enough to be here and we know that. If you come out of the North, you have to be pretty battle-tested and that’s what they are. They will present a challenge and we’ll be ready for it.”
Roy-Winifred 49, Wibaux 32
Roy-Winifred can’t wait for Friday night.
The Outlaws survived a sluggish start in the first round of the Class C girls basketball state tournament at Pacific Steel & Recycling Four Seasons Arena to defeat Wibaux 49-32 Thursday. After playing the tournament’s first game with a 12:30 p.m. tip, Roy-Winifred will next play in Friday’s semifinal round at 6:30 p.m.
“I felt like we were kind of out there as individuals (in the first quarter), but we needed to get together and play better team ball,” said Roy-Winifred co-coach Marietta Boyce. “Usually our defense creates our offense, that was little sluggish today, too, but towards the end we started to look like our old self. We like those evening games, so (Friday) we’ll show up at 6:30 and play ball.”
Roy-Winifred, the Northern C champion, mustered only six points in the first quarter but used a 17-4 run in the second to ultimately build a 23-13 halftime lead it would never relinquish. The Outlaws’ powerful inside tandem of Madeline Heggem and Dyauni Boyce combined for 35 points and 18 rebounds, forcing Wibaux into early foul trouble.
As good as Heggem and Boyce were inside, it was Roy-Winifred’s defense, though, that keyed the second-quarter run. The Outlaws had 20 points off 16 Wibaux turnovers in the game, with 11 of those coming in the first half.
“I feel like we worked well together as a team, we did better in that aspect. We worked the ball around better and played better defense I feel like,” said Olivia Greer, who finished with nine points and two steals. “(The coaches) just tell us we have to step it up and we need to look better, which I agreed. But I feel like we stepped it up.”
Ceara Miske led Wibaux with 10 points and Marni Schieffer added nine, but the Longhorns made just 13 of 36 field goal attempts (36.1 percent) and were just 3 of 15 from behind the 3-point line.
Roy-Winifred didn’t shoot any better, making 19 of 55 shots (34.5 percent) in the game, but the Outlaws dominated the glass with 20 offensive rebounds — compared to just eight for Wibaux — and took care of the ball with only 11 turnovers.
With the win, Roy-Winifred will next play Scobey at 6:30 p.m. Friday. After Thursday’s slow start, the Outlaws are looking to get out of the gate quicker on Friday.
“It was a slow start. I guess the beginning of the tournament, we came in a little too relaxed maybe, I’m not sure,” Marietta Boyce said. “But we survived and advanced, so we’re hoping to come out (Friday) and show what the Outlaws can do.”