The Lovell Lady Bulldogs essentially clinched the Five Rivers Conference regular season crown Friday with a convincing 59-34 win over the second-place Greybull Lady Buffs, then turned their attention to a Northeast 2A foe Saturday and stopped Big Horn 64-45.
The Lady Bulldogs have a three-game lead in the 2A Northwest with three games to play, all but wrapping up the conference title.
“We played well. It’s nice to see them starting to jell toward the end of the season,” Coach Chris Edwards said. “Against Greybull we had five girls score 7 or more points and against Big Horn there were four girls with 8 or more (points), which shows we’re being patient, taking high-percentage shots and trusting our teammates within our offense.
“Our defense was the best it’s been in a month. We were aggressive and rotating well. We put Mercedes (Haney) against the other team’s best offensive player. With her quickness she can guard any team’s opposing guards, plus she’s strong enough to guard a post player, as well.”
Both teams played in pink uniforms Friday at Winterholler Gym in the annual “Pack the Place in Pink” event to raise money for breast cancer research.
Greybull came to play Friday, jumping out to an 8-4 lead before the Lady Bulldogs put the clamps on defensively and shut out the visitors for the final 3½ minutes of the first quarter. During that stretch, Lovell went on an 8-0 run to lead 12-8 at the quarter break.
“We did a good job challenging Greybull and making them earn every shot they got,” Edwards said. “Mercedes, Charri (McArthur) and Mykelle (Nichols) did a good job on Ceirra Carlson, holding her to 6 points until the fourth quarter.”
Sophomore Charri McArthur bombed in a three-pointer to cap the first-quarter run for the Bulldogs, then sparked a 10-2 burst in the second quarter with another trey as Lovell built a 22-10 lead, extending Greybull’s scoreless time to 5½ minutes. The two foes couldn’t buy a basket in the final 3½ minutes of the half as Lovell led 22-12 at intermission.
Lovell broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Greybull squad 21-9 to lead 43-21 after three, at one point extending the run to 30-4 after the early 8-4 deficit. Chayli McArthur, Kim Shumway, Lauren Hinckley (trey), Mercedes Haney and Savanna Savage scored during an early 12-0 spurt that put the Lady Bulldogs up 34-12 at the time.
The two teams traded baskets in the fourth as Lovell edged Greybull 16-13 to win by 25 points, 59-34. Edwards was pleased with how his squad finished the game.
“I thought our conditioning and our stamina really came into play in the last four games,” he said. “We’re able to wear people out and we’re still fresh in the second half.”
Kim Shumway finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds, Savanna Savage 10 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Charri McArthur contributed 9 points off the bench, Nichols 8 points and three assists. Lauren Hinckley added 7 points and four assists.
Saturday, the Lady Bulldogs powered past a Big Horn team that had won three in a row including a 71-7 win over Riverside and a 63-18 win over Moorcroft. But though sporting numerous seniors on the roster, the Rams were no match for the Lady Bulldogs.
“They’re similar to Tongue River in that they had girls miss games before Christmas, but since the break they’ve had all their girls healthy, and they’ve been competitive in their games since Christmas,” Edwards said. “They only lost one player from last year.”
Big Horn led only once in the game, 3-0 on a three-point play by senior Hanneah Puckett, but Shumway fueled a 14-5 run with three baskets and a pair of free throws as Lovell led 14-8 and went on to lead 20-12 at the quarter break. Chayli McArthur scored 6 points during the quarter, Mykelle Nichols 4, including a jumper at the buzzer on a pass from Haney.
“We gave up a few buckets in our defensive transition during the first few minutes of the game, but besides that we frustrated their offense and made things difficult for them,” Edwards noted. “Our defense led to some easy transition baskets, and we did a good job moving the ball in our half-court offense and had enough patience to find a high-percentage shot. Kim dominated early with 8 points, which forced them to play zone the rest of the night.”
The teams mostly traded baskets in the second quarter as Lovell edged Big Horn 13-11 to lead 33-23 at halftime, but the Lady Bulldogs took command in the third, employing a smothering defense to outscore Big Horn 15-5, leading 48-28. Lovell ran the fast break hard and well during the quarter, sharing the ball for four assists on five buckets in the quarter including a trey at the end of the quarter from Charri McArthur on an assist from Hinckley.
Lovell led by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter before Big Horn trimmed the final margin to 19 points, 64-45. The Lady Bulldogs suffered from 11 missed free throws during the final quarter, or the margin would have been much greater.
The Lady Bulldogs shot 53 percent from two-point range in the game and had 16 assists on 22 made baskets.
Chayli McArthur and Shumway scored 12 points each to lead the Lady Bulldogs, and Charri McArthur added 9 points off the bench, Nichols 8 and Madison Harper and Hinckley 6 apiece. Shumway led the team with nine rebounds, Savage had four steals and Hinckley finished with five assists, Savage 4.
Final home game
Now 15-3, the Lady Bulldogs will be home tonight (Thursday) to meet the Riverside Lady Rebels in the final home game of the season. The game was originally scheduled for Friday but was moved due to referees’ schedules. Tip-off times are 4 (JV) and 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, the Lady Bulldogs travel to Torrington to meet the Southeast Cyclones at Eastern Wyoming College. Tip-off times are 2:30 (JV) and 4 p.m.
Edwards said he is looking forward to meeting Southeast. The Cyclones are 15-3 and ranked fourth in the state. Former Lovell resident Danielle McManamen is a top player for Southeast, who beat Lovell at State last year.
“I’m excited to see what they are, coming out of the southeast corner of the state,” Edwards said. “Right now their conference is showing they’ll be tough matchups at State for anyone from the West.
“Southeast is a methodical, ball-control team and plays solid man defense. They have disciplined guards who won’t turn the ball over much. They are well coached.:
MacKenzie Bollig 0 0-0 0, Madi Kraft 0 0-0 0, Jordan Flitner 1 0-0 2, Ceirra Carlson 5 2-3 13, Brett Stephens 2 3-5 7, Karlina McIntosh 2 4-8 8, Jordan Kraft 0 0-0 0, Florina Villegas 1 0-4 2, Savannah Kober 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 9-20 34.
Savanna Savage 4 2-7 10, Lauren Hinckley 1 4-6 7, Mercedes Haney 1 0-1 2, Madison Harper 2 0-0 4, Mykelle Nichols 4 0-2 8, Chayli McArthur 1 3-6 5, Charri McArthur 3 1-2 9, Kassi Renner 0 1-4 1, Caitlyn Lundberg 0 1-2 1, Jaclyn Caldwell 0 0-0 0, Kim Shumway 4 4-5 12, Sara Clark 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 16-35 59.
Greybull 8 4 9 13 – 34
Lovell 12 10 21 16 – 59
Three-point field goals – Carlson 1; Char. McArthur 2, Hinckley 1. Fouled out – Stephens and McIntosh. Total fouls – Greybull 25, Lovell 18.
BIG HORN (45)
Lauren Passini 1 0-0 3, Jadyn Mirich 1 0-0 3, Amelia Ponce 1 0-0 3, Hannah Puckett 5 5-6 15, Morgan Nance 0 0-0 0, Bailey Bard 1 5-6 7, MaKenna Bulkenbush 0 1-2 1, Mollie Caiola 0 1-2 1, Emily Blaney 1 3-4 5, Abby Buckingham 2 2-2 6, Ashton Koltiska 0 1-2 1, Kayla Crouse 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 18-24 45.
Madison Harper 3 0-0 6, Mykelle Nichols 3 2-2 8, Kassi Renner 1 0-0 2, Savanna Savage 2 1-6 5, Lauren Hinckley 2 2-2 6, Chayli McArthur 4 4-6 12, Charri McArthur 2 4-9 9, Caitlyn Lundberg 0 0-0 0, Mercedes Haney 1 2-4 4, Kim Shumway 4 4-4 12, Sara Clark 0 0-0 0, Jaclyn Caldwell 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 19-33 64.
Big Horn 12 11 5 17 – 45
Lovell 20 13 15 16 – 64
Three-point field goals – Passini 1, Mirich 1, Ponce 1; Char. McArthur 1. Fouled out – Crouse; Savage. Total fouls – Big Horn 23, Lovell 21.
By David Peck