The Choteau High School Lady Bulldogs notched a pair of conference wins last week and will be on the road this weekend, playing Rocky Boy on Friday and Fairfield on Saturday, in another set of District 1B conference games.
There will not be a junior varsity game against Rocky Boy and the varsity game is set to start at 6 p.m. At Fairfield, there will be junior varsity at 2:30 p.m. (likely only a half game) and varsity at 5:30 p.m.
Coach Carissa Jenkins on Monday said the Choteau girls are going to continue to work out problem issues in practice this week and then will be ready for the long road trip to Rocky Boy. The Morning Stars are down a little this year, compared to last year, she said, but they are always tough to play at home and Choteau’s girls are not looking past any team this season.
“Every single game is an opportunity for us to get better and to continue to push that envelope,” Jenkins said.
She said the Fairfield High School program has a new coach this year, Travis Schenk, but returns Madison Rosenbaum and Cheyenne Maddox and a great cast of younger players. She expects the Eagles to press and try to force turnovers, and her girls are going to be prepared to use their strong guard kills to combat that line of defense.
Two Choteau eighth graders now have enough practices to be eligible to play on the girls junior varsity team: Kylie Kovatch and Harlee Trahan. The team brought the eighth graders up to help beef up numbers on the teams and allow solid practices and a JV season.
Kylie Kovatch will be eligible to play on the JV team against Fairfield. Harlee Trahan got to play in the JV game against Cut Bank. They are both eighth graders. Choteau has just 12 girls out for basketball, including the two eighth graders.
Choteau opened the season with a nonconference loss to a tough Jefferson County High School team and followed up with victories over Shelby on Jan. 8 and Cut Bank at home on Jan. 9.
“Anytime you get two wins, it was awesome,” Jenkins said on Monday. “I think the girls are just starting to click as a team.”
Choteau defeated Shelby, 64-48, in a game that Jenkins said was an ugly win. She said the girls just did not play their best ball against Shelby but still came up with the win. Choteau had five girls scoring in the game, led by sophomore Ada Bieler with 27 points and senior Christine Funk with 14 points. The girls made 59% of their free-throws and made 18 two-point baskets and five three-point shots on their way to the win.
The Lady Bulldogs led, 18-13, at the end of the first quarter and were still up, 32-25, at halftime, but came out on fire after the break to outscore Shelby, 13-2, in the third quarter, cementing their lead.
Against Cut Bank, the Lady Bulldogs opened an 18-9 first-quarter lead and never let Cut Bank get the lead. Choteau was up, 31-23, at halftime, 43-34 at the end of the third period, and outscored Cut Bank, 24-17, in the fourth quarter for the 67-51 win.
Choteau had six different players scoring with senior Abby McCollom leading the team with 22 points including six of six free throws. Bieler chipped in 16 points in the win. The girls made 79% of their free throws and scored on 26 two-point shots.
Jenkins said the Choteau varsity girls improved from their game with Shelby to the game with Cut Bank. Their ball movement was smoother and they read their defenders better, she said, but most importantly, they came together as a team.
The girls also limited their turnovers compared to the 24 they had against Jefferson County High School. They had 17 turnovers in Shelby and 19 against Cut Bank, but they did a better job of taking care of the ball and, on defense, they were tough coming up with blocks, steals and deflections.
Jenkins said junior Emma Gunderson was a key player in the Cut Bank win, coming up big on defense while McCollom had a big presence on offense.
“They are starting to really settle into what their roles are on the team,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins was happy to see most of Choteau’s scoring against Cut Bank came in the paint as the girls’ inside game worked well. They also scored 19 points off of Cut Bank turnovers. “That was big for us too,” she said.
Jenkins also said the girls are cheering each other on and playing unselfish ball. “They are meshing and gelling and just having fun,” she said.
Choteau 18-14-20-12 — 64
Shelby 13-12-13-10 — 48
Choteau — Emma Gunderson 3 1/2 7, Christine Funk 5 2/4 14, Abby McCollom 2 4/4 8, Ada Bieler 10 4/7 27, Savannah Durocher 3 2/5 8. Totals: 23 13/22.
Shelby — Taylor Schilling 1 1/2 3, Adele Lamb 0 1/2 1, Vivi McDermott 6 4/5 19, Cameron Blevins 2 2/9 6, Shelbee Correa 2 1/2 7, Jori Clary 4 3/7 12. Totals: 16 12/27.
Fouls: Choteau 20, Shelby 16. Fouled out: McCollom. Three-point goals: Funk 2, Bieler 3, McDermott 3, Correa 2, Clary.
Choteau 18-13-12-24 — 67
Cut Bank 9-14-11-17 — 51
Choteau — Emma Gunderson 3 0/0 6, Christine Funk 3 3/4 9, Abby McCollom 8 6/6 22, Ada Bieler 7 2/2 16, Asia Bouma 2 1/3 5, Savannah Durocher 3 3/4 9. Totals: 26 15/19.
Cut Bank — Kendra Spotted Bear 1 0/0 2, Sadie Pepion 4 4/5 12, Jackie Waller 3 0/0 6, Aliyah Cruz 2 2/4 6, Siennan Spotted Bear 4 5/6 14, MacKenzie Johnson 1 0/0 3, Mariah Posey 1 2/2 4, Madison Baker 1 2/2 4. Totals; 17 15/19.
Fouls: Choteau 16, Cut Bank 15. Fouled out: none. Three-point goals: S. Spotted Bear, Johnson.