DAYTON — Defense has carried the Tongue River girls basketball team all season. The Lady Eagles’ effectiveness on that end of the court kept them competitive in most games, even when they couldn’t score well.
Defense couldn’t sustain Tongue River Saturday against Moorcroft, however, as the Lady Eagles lost 63-45. Tongue River dropped to 2-6 in conference, while Moorcroft improved to 3-5.
The final career home game for six Tongue River seniors — Nikki Perfetti, Sarah Summers, Jenna Keller, Brittany Fillingham, Courtney Good and Angel Richards — ended on a sour note.
Moorcroft shot the ball extremely well and executed its offense all night. Tongue River’s 3-2 zone is predicated on forcing teams to hit shots from the perimeter, and Moorcroft busted that zone to perfection.
“The way that they were shooting was the perfect recipe to beat that defense,” Tongue River head coach Tyler Hanson said.
Hanson said the Lady Wolves didn’t run anything differently than the previous matchup, which the Lady Eagles won 42-38. It all boiled down to shooting, especially from the outside. Moorcroft made five 3-pointers and two jumpers in the first quarter, quickly building a lead it never gave up. The game was never in doubt, as Moorcroft led by double digits for nearly all of the final three quarters.
The Lady Eagles did step up their defensive effort in the second stanza and Moorcroft cooled off from deep. The Lady Eagles also moved the ball better offensively to get open looks. Keller nailed a 3-pointer to start the quarter and Holly Hutchinson had two buckets near the rim. Hutchinson was one of the brights spots for Tongue River, along with RaeShawna Red Star, who sank three 3-pointers.
But it was not nearly enough.
The Lady Eagles trailed by 11 at halftime and their defense was out of sorts in the third quarter, allowing easy looks or committing fouls. The superb outside shooting by the Lady Wolves meant Tongue River had to close out harder on the perimeter, which opened up driving lanes for Moorcroft. The Lady Wolves attacked the basket more in the second half and drew fouls on the Lady Eagles.
The Lady Wolves were in the bonus less than seven minutes into the half and took advantage, hitting 7 of 8 from the charity stripe in the third quarter. Moorcroft only mustered 38 points in the first game between the two teams, but the Lady Wolves exceeded that total midway through the third quarter.
Moorcroft had a huge advantage from the line on the night, converting 22 of 35 free throws overall, while the Lady Eagles only made 9 of 25.
Hanson said the team needs to refine a few things going forward but doesn’t need to make any major adjustments. Despite Moorcroft’s hot shooting, the Tongue River defensive commitment remains.
Tongue River travels to Sundance Friday.
Moorcroft…………………………..19 11 17 16 — 63
Tongue River………………………..8 11 10 17 — 45
Moorcroft — Feehan 15, Jones 15, Braden 14, Petz 8, Williams 8, Lefave 2, Peterson 1
Tongue River — Hutchinson 14, Red Star 9, Fillingham 6, Perfetti 6, Keller 4, Kobza 2, Good 2, Bocek 2