DAYTON — In the first minute of Friday’s game, the Tongue River High School girls basketball team almost flawlessly executed a fastbreak chance against the Rocky Mountain full court press. The Lady Eagles made three quick passes to move the ball ahead of the defense and set up an open layup.
The point-blank shot rimmed out, though, leaving Tongue River nothing to show on the scoreboard for its effort. After that early miss, the Lady Eagles struggled for the remainder of the half to get looks of similar quality near the basket.
Rocky Mountain used its effective press and a dominant first half to take home the 64-38 win in Dayton. Tongue River fell to 1-2 in quadrant competition with the loss.
As they have during games earlier in the season, the Lady Eagles had trouble against the full court press during the first two quarters.
Rocky Mountain used its length and quickness to disrupt passing lanes. Tongue River tried to force too many passes through the thicket of defenders’ arms, leading to costly turnovers and easy buckets for the Lady Grizzlies.
Tongue River head coach Ryan Alley said the team was put on its heels by Rocky Mountain’s aggressive defense and couldn’t recover until it was too late.
In the half court, the Lady Grizzlies patrolled the paint and made it tough for TR to get quality shots near the rim.
Tongue River trailed 22-2 after the first quarter and 34-9 at halftime. Rocky Mountain held the Lady Eagles scoreless for nearly six minutes, putting up 20 unanswered points.
The second half featured a different, more encouraging story for TR. Alley urged the players to come out with reckless abandon in the third quarter and play a more free-flowing game, and they did just that.
With Rocky Mountain not pressing as much, the Lady Eagles scored far more easily. After only nine points in the first half, Tongue River equaled that offensive output in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter and scored 29 points in the second half.
The Lady Eagles hit several 3-pointers to climb their way back into the game, nearly playing Rocky Mountain to a draw in the final 16 minutes.
Alley expressed pride in the team’s effort and energy in the second half.
“The way we played in the second half, if we can put more effort like that into a game, we can compete at a higher level,” Alley said.
Holly Hutchinson led the Lady Eagles with 15 points, 14 of them coming in the final two stanzas.
Hutchinson said she wasn’t completely dialed in to start the game and played with hesitation that led to turnovers.
“I kind of wasn’t mentally checked in and I was kind of worried about their size difference,” she said.
After encouragement from teammates, Hutchinson and the Lady Eagles came out firing in the second half. She said the team will try to translate its second half energy into a full game on Saturday.
The Lady Eagles have shown that they can play with teams in spurts but have yet to put together a full effort against a top-tier opponent. In its game Saturday, TR will have another opportunity.
Tongue River hosts Moorcroft Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Rocky Mountain…22 12 15 15 — 64
Tongue River……….2 7 14 15 — 38
Rocky Mountain — T. Steed 12, Davison 11, Crosby 8, Townsend 7, Christensen 7, Jolley 6, Hedges 5, J. Steed 4, Miller 2, Despain 2
Tongue River — Hutchinson 15, Reish 6, Kalasinsky 5 Butler 4, Scammon 3, Bocek 3, Carbert 2