The Choteau High School girls basketball team will play Great Falls Central Catholic and Broadwater County High School this weekend as the girls enter the second half of the regular season.
Last week, the Choteau girls lost a pair of District 1B road games, falling to Fairfield, 56-32, and then losing to Rocky Boy, 53-44. The girls are now 3-7 overall and 2-4 in conference.
Choteau will travel to GFCC on Friday with the junior varsity playing at 3 p.m. and the varsity at 6 p.m. On Saturday, Choteau will host Broadwater County High School from Townsend with JV play at 1 p.m. and varsity action at 4 p.m.
Coach Carissa Jenkins on Monday said that at the mid-point in the season the team is starting to gel and find each other better on the court. “Our cohesiveness as one group is improving,” she said.
She also said that her girls are improving with every game, both as individuals and as a team. “We are fixing the things that we should be fixing from game to game for the most part,” she said.
Individually, she said, each of her varsity players is doing a better job of thinking about how they can contribute points in every game, whether that means offensive rebounding for second-chance shots, making points at the free-throw line or making a good pass to another player in scoring position.
What she wants to see more improvement in, however, is the girls’ turnover rate. “We’ve got to start taking care of the ball,” she said, adding that the girls need to be able to score on each possession and they won’t be able to do that if they turn the ball over on a bad pass.
She will also be working with the girls to help them play better against zone defenses, something that can be tough for an undersized team like Choteau. Jenkins said she wants to see Jessie Henderson and Samara DeBruycker along with Abby McCollom all working to fill the post-position duties. She said she wants the girls on offense to attack the basket and work the ball in to DeBruycker, McCollom and Henderson.
On defense, she said, she will be working with the girls on their strategy to control outside shooting. The girls already do a great job of shutting down inside players, but they need to have a solid game plan for preventing strings of three-point shots when they’ve mostly shut down the other team’s inside game.
Last week, Choteau played Fairfield closely in the first half, down, 12-9, at the end of the first half and down by 23-19 at halftime. The third quarter, however, was the key to the game. Fairfield outscored Choteau, 15-2, in the third period and Choteau was never able to get back in the game.
Jenkins said Fairfield’s Kenna Pitcher drilled three three-pointers in the third quarter to elevate the Eagles for the win.
Choteau had six girls scoring, but Fairfield’s defenders held everyone to single digits. Freshman guard Ada Bieler led the team with nine points. The girls made 29 percent of their free throws.
Against Rocky Boy, Choteau’s defenders did a good job of shutting down Angela Gopher and Jeralyn Parker but Sasha Coffee made five three-pointers in the first quarter to give Rocky Boy a big lead and the eventual win. The Morning Stars led, 35-15, at halftime, but Choteau rallied in the third quarter, outscoring Rocky Boy, 17-7, to trail by just six points at the start of the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Mariah Arkinson got hot, sinking two threes and a deuce to help her team stave off the rally and get the win.
Choteau had seven girls scoring in this game, led by junior guard Christine Funk with 15 points. The girls made 60 percent of their free throws.
Coach Jenkins said the girls will need to be ready to adjust to changes GFCC and Townsend may have made since the first time they played. Choteau will need to be ready to handle a zone pressure from GFCC, she said, and to control GFCC’s one tall inside player.
When Choteau played Townsend earlier in the season, the team was missing Funk, DeBruycker and McCollom. This time, with a full team, Jenkins said she thinks the girls will play Townsend a lot tougher.
Choteau 9-10-2-11 — 32
Fairfield 12-11-15-18 — 56
Choteau — Emma Gunderson 3 0/2 6, Chris Funk 2 1/2 6, Jessie Henderson 1 0/0 3, Abby McCollom 0 1/3 1, Ada Bieler 4 0/0 9, Nicole Krone 3 0/0 7. Totals: 14 2/7.
Fairfield — Natalie Kolste 2 0/0 4, Madison Rosenbaum 2 7/8 12, Kenna Pitcher 9 1/1 22, Taylor Simmons 1 0/0 2, Cheyenne Maddox 5 0/0 12, Kyler Bake 1 0/2 2, Kaylee Christensen 1 0/0 2. Totals: 21 8/11.
Fouls: Fairfield 15, Choteau 13. Fouled out: none. Three-point goals: Rosenbaum, Pitcher 3, Maddox 2, Funk, Henderson, Bieler, Krone.
Choteau 9-6-17-9 — 44
Rocky Boy 17-15-7-14 — 53
Choteau — Emma Gunderson 1 2/4 4, Christine Funk 5 3/3 15, Jessie Henderson 2 0/0 5, Samara DeBruycker 2 1/1 5, Abby McCollom 2 0/0 4, Ada Bieler 1 1/3 3, Nicole Krone 3 2/4 8. Totals: 16 9/15.
Rocky Boy — Jayna Gopher 0 1/2 1, Ella Moore 1 0/0 2, Mariah Arkinson 4 0/0 10, Angela Gopher 5 0/2 11, Sasha Coffee 6 0/1 17, Kirsten LaMere 0 1/2 1, Jeralyn Parker 3 2/2 8, Meiyah Sutherland 1 0/0 3. Totals: 20 4/12.
Fouls: Choteau 15, Rocky Boy 15. Fouled out: none. Three-point goals: Funk 2, Henderson, Arkinson 2, A. Gopher, Coffee 5, Sutherland.