DAYTON — The Big Horn and Tongue River girls basketball teams had a tale of two halves Saturday.
The Lady Eagles dictated the first half thanks to stellar defense and aggressive offense. The Lady Rams took over in the second half due to press defense and superb shotmaking, ultimately prevailing 47-35.
“I’m proud of the way we responded today,” Big Horn head coach Michael McGuire said. “I thought it was a big part in our season. We could’ve decided to go either way, and I was happy with the way they responded. Hopefully we can build on that.”
Tongue River used a 3-2 zone to flummox the Lady Rams for most of the first half. After falling behind early 5-0, the Lady Eagles held Big Horn scoreless for nearly eight minutes and charged ahead 11-5 in the second quarter.
“It was kind of a pack it in, make them prove it from the outside game plan,” Tongue River head coach Tyler Hanson said. “That (half court) defensive game plan worked all game long.”
Both teams struggled to get anything consistent offensively for most of the first half, however. Poor passes and missed layups occurred frequently on both ends of the court.
Tongue River led 21-15 at halftime thanks in part to five consecutive points at the end of the second quarter from Zaveah Kobza.
McGuire said Big Horn’s defensive fundamentals were subpar in the first half, but the team flipped a switch in the third quarter. The Lady Rams’ press defense caused turnovers on Tongue River’s first five possessions, leading to easy baskets.
The Lady Eagles were unable to get any good looks at the basket and the Lady Rams capitalized on the other end. Big Horn scored 12 unanswered points, seven courtesy of Alisyn Hutton, and outscored Tongue River 14-1 in the third quarter.
McGuire called it the best stretch of play for the team all season.
“We knocked down a couple shots and that was able to fuel our defense a little bit,” he said.
Kobza made a nice move in the post early in the fourth quarter to bring the Lady Eagles within four points, 30-26, but that was the slimmest gap of the final quarter. From the end of the second quarter into the fourth quarter, Tongue River only managed two points over 9:30 of game time, a persistent problem this season for the Lady Eagles.
Up five with 5:20 remaining, Big Horn executed a press break that led to a layup from Jordan Frank, effectively sealing the deal.
For the Lady Rams, the game served as a tipping point for the direction of their season, and they persevered to get the comeback win. For the Lady Eagles, it was another part of the learning process in a season that still has a long way to go.
Big Horn improved to 1-1 in conference play, while Tongue River dropped to 0-2. Tongue River travels Friday to Moorcroft, while Big Horn hosts Wright.
Big Horn……………………………………………….5 10 14 18 — 47
Tongue River…………………………………………..7 14 1 13 — 35
Big Horn — Wallach 13, A. Hutton 12, Mayer 6, B. Hutton 5, Frank 5, Davidson 4, Schmidt 2
Tongue River — Kobza 11, Perfetti 8, Fillingham 5, Hutchinson 5, Red Star 3, Bocek 2, Richards 1