Dillon Lady Beavers come out on short end versus taller foes in 2-loss weekend

Dillon’s Cierra Lamey searches for a teammate during Dillon’s loss at Hamilton. The Lady Beavers sit second behind the Lady Broncs in the Southwestern A standings. Jess Alberi photo

 

The Dillon Lady Beavers got a double dose of what they have been handing out all season, with a 32-52 home loss to Helena High on Thursday night, and a setback two days later in Hamilton, where the Lady Broncos beat Dillon, 51-37, to take over the Southwest A conference lead.

The Helena Lady Bengals stepped out of the AA class to face the 6-1 single A Lady Beavs in the B.W. Lodge. Helena has three players on the roster over the six-foot mark, so Dillon coach Gabe Walker and his players knew exactly what they were up against.

“The key will be to keep them off the boards and make them take tough guarded shots,” said Walker before the game.

Helena High surprised their hosts by coming out in a full-court press that caused some early confusion for the young Lady Beaver team. The Dillon girls responded to the pressure though, and took care of the basketball to keep the game close through the first quarter.

Dillon was getting outside looks on offense, but the combination of Helena’s rotating bigs kept the hosts off the boards and created a number of second-chance shots for their guests.

The Lady Beavs’ Cierra Lamey continued to play much bigger than her 5-10 frame, and found scoring opportunities down low by simply out-hustling her opponents.

Lamey and Dillon closed the score to 12-15, before the Bengals went on a 17-7 run midway through the second quarter to extend their lead to 16 at the half.

Other than Lamey, the Lady Beavers got limited inside looks in the first half and were forced to settle for deep perimeter shots.

“Helena High’s length and athleticism gave us problems,” said fifth-year coach Walker.

“We fought hard but had a tough time stopping their offense.”

Coming out of the half, Dillon stepped up their solid defense and were able to knock down some key threes, led by junior Audrey Schurg, who ended up going 3 of 4 from downtown on the night.

Lamey sparked a run by forcing two Helena turnovers that she rolled over into Dillon points.

But the visitors’ defense was the story of the night, as time and again the Lady Bengals D proved impenetrable and caused the hosts to force shots up from the outside.

The Lady Beavers were led by Schurg’s 10 points, followed closely by Lamey and Alex Rouse, with 9 a piece. The only other scoring for Dillon came from Courtney Linder and Brandi Lovaas, who each had 2 points in the 20-point loss.

Still, Walker felt the non-conference game was a good opportunity to see how his vertically challenged Lady Beavers would handle an athletic tall team that likes to play full-court basketball.

“They were good inside and they knocked down threes when we tried to help on their post players,” commented Walker.

“On offense, we were pleased with having only 9 turnovers, but had a difficult time operating against their zone defense.”

On Saturday, the Dillon team made the drive through the Big Hole Valley and over the Continental Divide to face the Hamilton Lady Broncos, who also entered the game undefeated in conference play.

Hamilton has perhaps the best one-two punch in Class A, with last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year Taylor Goligoski and Jaylee Albert, who looks just as good. Goligoski leads the conference in scoring, with 22.2 ppg, followed by Albert in second, with 13 ppg. Dillon had to stop the scoring of these two if they had any chance of knocking off the Lady Broncs.

Hamilton opened the game in a full-court press, jumping to a 9-0 lead over the Lady Beavs, who were getting quality looks at the basket, but could not get anything to fall until Linder hit a pull-up jumper late in the first quarter.

Up until that point, the game was defined by Dillon turnovers and missed shots.

But that all changed about halfway through the second period, as Rouse ignited her team with a three followed by an inbounding violation against Hamilton.

Lamey then hit an eight-footer, followed by Schurg connecting on yet another trey to cut Hamilton’s lead to 5 points with 2:30 left in the half.

The Lady Beavs stepped up their D and did an excellent job of only allowing one shot per trip for the Lady Broncs, who went into the locker room with just a 25-21 halftime lead.

“We got off to a poor start but battled back and cut the lead to four at the half,” said Coach Walker, on his team’s play.

“We felt good at the half. We had momentum; we were getting stops; and our offense was starting to produce.”

The Dillon girls continued to keep the game tight in the second half by knocking down their opportunities and out-hustling the home team.

With four minutes left in the third, the Lady Beavers still had the game within 4 points, , 25-29.

But the momentum began to shift toward Hamilton due to their solid zone defense. The hosts were making everyone of Dillon’s passes difficult, causing a number of turnovers that they quickly converted into points.

Dominating the transition game, the Lady Broncs went on a 12-6 run to pull away for good with 5:30 left in the game.

Dillon made one final run and pulled to within 10 points with 2:30 left in the game, but the combination of Goligoski and Albert kept the visitors from getting any closer, and the Lady Beavs ended up dropping to second in the conference with the 14-point loss.

Schurg led Dillon’s scoring, with 11 points, as she continued to shoot well from deep going, 3-5 on three-pointers.

Linder and Lamey were the other top performers for the Lady Beavers, combining for 17 points and 17 rebounds.

But another 17 haunted Dillon—their 17 turnovers that led to 26 second-half points for Hamilton.

“Losing always magnifies things and its gives us an opportunity to improve as coaches and players,” reflected Walker after the game in which his team only shot 4 free throws.

“I’m proud of our girls in how they never quit. We really feel like this game can be a springboard for us to get back to practice with a new focus.”

The Dillon girls picked a good week to try to regain their focus, with two non-conference games.

The Lady Beavs will host Whitehall on Thursday, and then head up to Helena on Saturday to face another strong AA team in Helena Capital.

“Our focus is defense without fouling, rebounding, and taking care of the ball on offense,” said the Dillon coach. “We feel confident the girls will respond and continue to play hard and have fun.”

 

Helena High def. Dillon 52-32

Dillon Scoring (32 points) Audrey Schurg 10; Cierra Lamey 9; Alex Rouse 9; Courtney Linder 2; Brandi Lovaas 2.

Three-Point Shooting (4-18): Schurg 3-4; Rouse 1-5.

Free Throw Shooting (6-8): Lamey 3-4; Rouse 2-2; Schurg 1-2.

Rebounds (18): Schurg 5; Linder 5; Lamey 4; Rouse 4.

Assists (8): Jordan Peterson 2; Schurg 2.

Steals (5): Linder 3. 

Turnovers (9)

 

Hamilton def. Dillon 51-37

Scoring (37 points): Schurg 11; Lamey 9; Linder 8; Rouse 5; Shelby Kluesner 2, Lovaas 2.

Three-Point Shooting (4-15): Schurg 3-5; Rouse 1-5.

Free Throw Shooting (3-4): Lamey 3-4.

Rebounds (32): Lamey 9, Linder 8, Lovaas 4.

Assists (9): Lamey 2, Schurg 2.

Turnovers (17).