The Lovell Lady Bulldogs had been looking forward to last weekend’s challenges against Wyoming Indian and Tongue River, no doubt circling both dates on the early-season calendar.
With the perennial powers coming to Winterholler Gym, the Lovell squad answered the bell with a show of strength, powering past the Lady Chiefs 54-45 Thursday, then crushing the number one-ranked Lady Eagles 59-37 Saturday, snapping TR’s 33-game winning streak.
Teams often show improvement from the first weekend of the season to the second once they’ve seen live game action, and that was certainly the case with the re-loading Lady Bulldogs, who built upon a solid start at the Big Horn Basin Shootout.
“We hoped to have better continuity in our offense, and we felt like the ball was being moved effectively,” Coach Chris Edwards said. “For the most part we felt, as coaches, that the girls were taking better shots.
“Wyoming Indian can create chaotic situations, and at times we allowed that to force ourselves into bad passes and sloppy offense. But our young guards, as the game went on, did a better job of having patience.”
The Lovell defense was effective, holding Wyoming Indian to just 45 points.
“Our man defense was effective throughout the first half,” Edwards said. “Their post players were really physical. I thought that was good for our post players to go against. The only place they hurt us was getting offensive rebounds and put-backs.”
Indeed, the Lady Chiefs had a difficult time penetrating the multiple layers of Lovell’s defense, anchored by twin towers Kim Shumway and Emilee Reasch.
“They understand how to rotate,” Edwards noted. “If they get beat, they rotate over. Both Emilee and Kim get a lot of blocked shots and deflections.”
Lovell jumped out to a 7-0 lead Thursday as Lauren Hinckley hit a baseline jumper, Reasch fed Shumway for two, Chayli McArthur hit one of two at the foul line and Mykelle Nichols drained a jumper. Wyoming Indian finally got on the scoreboard a little more than three minutes into the game, but Lovell went on to lead 13-4 at the quarter break.
The two teams traded baskets in the second quarter. After McArthur sparked a 5-2 mini run with a pair of baskets early in the quarter, putting Lovell up 18-6, Wyoming Indian cut the lead to four with an 8-0 run. Lovell outscored Wyoming Indian 11-6 the rest of the half to lead 29-20 at intermission, and the deficit would have been wider had the Lady Bulldogs hit their free throws. Lovell was only 5 of 15 at the line in the first half and finished a woeful 13 of 32 at the stripe.
“Missed free throws allowed them to hang around,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to make sure each girl goes to the line with confidence. All of them are quality free-throw shooters.”
A three-pointer and fast-break hoop by McArthur late in the third put Lovell up 44-33 after three, and the Lady Bulldogs built the lead to 13 points early in the fourth, but Wyoming Indian was able to whittle the final margin to nine points by the end of the game.
McArthur finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, and Shumway added 10 points, Reasch 8. Reasch blocked nine shots, and she grabbed 10 rebounds, Shumway 9. Nichols had four steals, Hinckley and Reasch three each. Hinckley and Reasch had three assists each.
The box score:
WYO. INDIAN (45)
Elsi Marquez 0 1-2 1, Brindi Lock 3 6-11 12, Loveeda White 4 2-4 11, Rhiannon Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Amryn Brown 2 0-0 5, Jasmine McGill 3 0-2 6, Shaylee Lonedog 1 0-0 2, Shawntee St. Clair 0 0-0 0, Dailyn Friday 2 4-5 8. Totals 15 13-24 45.
Madison Harper 0 0-0 0, Mykelle Nichols 3 0-0 6, Kassi Renner 0 0-0 0, Savanna Savage 0 3-4 3, Lauren Hinckley 1 0-0 2, Chayli McArthur 9 4-9 23, Charri McArthur 0 2-4 2, Mercedes Haney 0 0-0 0, Kim Shumway 4 2-9 10, Emilee Reasch 3 2-6 8. Totals 20 13-32 54.
WIHS 4 16 13 12 – 45
Lovell 13 16 15 10 – 54
Three-point field goals – White 1, Brown 1; McArthur 1. Fouled out – Lock. Total fouls – Wyo. Indian 23, Lovell 20.
Junior Lauren Hinckley came out red hot and lit up the Tongue River Lady Eagles Saturday afternoon. Hinckley hit three consecutive three-pointers, then a two-point jumper as Lovell built an early 13-3 lead. Mykelle Nichols fed McArthur on the fast break for the final basket of the run.
“We did a good job finding Lauren in the zone where she could just catch and shoot,” Edwards said. “We actually added a couple of wrinkles to our zone offense that worked well.”
After TR made it 13-5, Lovell extended the lead to 20-5 as Shumway fed McArthur for two, then scored on a power follow and a transition basket as McArthur returned the favor with a nice pass. Tongue River battled back, but Lovell led 22-13 at the quarter break.
“Our girls really moved the ball well and were unselfish, which led to higher percentage shots,” Edwards said. “We told the girls that if we can rebound defensively our athleticism would allow us to get out in transition and force their bigs to get up and down the floor.”
Lovell continued to pull away in the second quarter. Back-to-back buckets by Nichols put the Lady Bulldogs up 28-16, and moments later McArthur scored twice as Lovell led 32-17. TR cut the margin to 11, but Hinckley ended the half with her fourth trey of the first half and Lovell took a 35-21 lead at intermission.
The Lady Bulldogs continued to pour it on in the third quarter, using a 13-2 run to lead 48-23 before TR cut the deficit back to 21 after three, 50-29. Lovell outscored Tongue River 9-8 in the final quarter to win by 22.
Edwards noted that the Eagles were missing two players from their normal lineup who will return after Christmas, but he was pleased with how his team met the challenge of a strong opponent. The Bulldogs were solid offensively and defensively and had few turnovers.
“Mykelle’s defensive pressure is allowing us to give other teams fits right now,” Edwards said. “Our defensive rotation was exceptional against Tongue River…When we don’t force drives or force shots, we end up with very high percentage shots. The girls are playing under control and with confidence in each other. Each girl is playing her role.”
Hinckley led the Lady Bulldogs with 21 points, knocking down five three-pointers. McArthur added 12 points, Shumway 9 and Savanna Savage 7. The Lady Bulldogs had 20 assists Saturday, led by Shumway with five, Nichols and Chayli McArthur four each. Reasch had five steals, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
The box score:
TONGUE RIVER (37)
A Buller 3 0-0 6, C. Bluemel 0 0-0 0, A. Reed 1 0-0 2, K. Sharp 5 0-0 10, E Aksamit 5 6-8 16, A Dodge 1 1-4 3. Totals 15 7-11 37.
Madison Harper 0 0-1 0, Mykelle Nichols 2 0-0 4, Kassi Renner 2 0-0 4, Savanna Savage 3 1-2 7, Lauren Hinckley 7 2-2 21, Chayli McArthur 6 0-1 12, Charri McArthur 0 0-1 0, Mercedes Haney 0 0-0 0, Kim Shumway 4 1-4 9, Emilee Reasch 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 4-11 59.
T River 13 8 8 8 – 37
Lovell 22 13 15 9 – 59
Three-point field goals – Hinckley 5. Fouled out – none. Total fouls – T. River 12, Lovell 15.
The Lovell girls will open the Big Horn Basin Classic at home Friday when they meet the winner of Thursday night’s Riverside-Meeteetse game at 3:30 p.m. If they win, the Lady Bulldogs will play again at 1:30 Saturday afternoon against the winner of the Buffalo-Burlington game.
There are 10 teams in the tournament, co-hosted by Lovell and Rocky Mountain: Lovell, Worland, Powell, Buffalo, Burlington, Thermopolis, Rocky Mtn., Meeteetse, Riverside and Ten Sleep.
Girls games are in Lovell, boys games in Cowley, except for Thursday night, when there are two games in Cowley and two in Meeteetse.
By David Peck