The Lovell Lady Bulldogs got the new year off to a strong start in Worland over the weekend, playing to a 2-1 record at the Big Horn Basin Classic.
Lovell opened play against Wind River Friday afternoon and after struggling to find the basket in the first half outscored the Lady Cougars 40-7 in the second to win 57-17. That set up a Friday night game against the Lander Tigers, and the Lady Bulldogs pulled away for a strong 61-41 win.
After starting 2-0 and playing two games in seven hours, then experiencing bus troubles on the way home Friday night, the Lady Bulldogs were off their game Saturday morning and were clobbered by hometown and defending state champion Worland, 65-32.
The Lady Bulldogs had trouble shaking off the holiday cobwebs against Wind River Friday afternoon and trailed 10-9 late in the first half before scoring 8 straight points to lead 17-10 at halftime on a Emily Snell drive, a Trysa Flood baseline jumper, a Kaitlyn Mickelson bucket inside and a Shelby Wardell drive.
“During the first 10 minutes of the game it was a matter of the girls not finishing shots, and our overall intensity was not there,” coach Chris Edwards said. “Every shot we put up was not falling. One of the biggest frustrations was that Wind River was playing with a high level of energy and we didn’t match that for the first third of the game.
“At halftime we made no adjustments but challenged the girls and told them it’s all in their hands and they have to play with a higher level of intensity. At the defensive end we hadn’t dictated what Wind River did in the first half. It was a matter of effort and focus when executing our defensive assignments.”
Wind River scored the first basket of the third quarter to cut the Lovell lead to 17-12, but the Lady Bulldogs scored 15 straight points to close out the quarter with a 32-12 lead.
A steal and basket by Snell got the Bulldogs started, and a three-pointer from the top of the key by Wardell put Lovell up 22-12. Junior Mandi Jo Baxendale finished the third quarter with a power move and started the fourth with a basket on a pass from Flood. After a Wind River bucket, Baxendale executed a three-point play (follow shot and free throw) to put Lovell up 37-14.
“Mandi Jo did a good job imposing her will on the low block, and that gave us a little inside presence to take the pressure off our guards,” Edwards said. “We started making the effort plays to get deflections and steals to dictate what Wind River was doing.”
Lovell went on to outscore Wind River 25-5 in the fourth to win by 40 points, 57-17.
Wardell led Lovell with 14 points, and Baxendale joined her in double figures with 11. Paige Bischoff added 7 points, Snell 6, Flood and Alea Mayes 5 each, Mikkel McIntosh 4, Madison Bryson 3 and Mickelson 2.
Stopping the Tigers
Edwards said the Lady Bulldogs played their best game of the season so far in a 61-41 win over Lander in an 8 p.m. game Friday in Worland.
“They’re pretty good; they’re a decent team,” he said. “That was the most complete game I’ve seen from the girls this year. They carried the defensive effort from the second half of the Wind River game into the Lander game.
“We played a lot of man defense and mixed in some zone pressures. We had scouted their pick-and-roll game, and I thought we defended that extremely well. We didn’t give up any easy baskets. Lander is a physical team that can put you on your heels. The girls did a great job matching their intensity.”
The two teams mostly traded baskets in the first quarter, after which Lovell led 15-11, but Lovell dominated the second quarter 17-5 to double up the Tigers 23-16 at halftime. Wardell was hot in the first half, scoring 10 points, and McIntosh added 9 and Snell 7.
Lovell continued to pull away with a 15-9 third-quarter advantage to lead 47-25, and Lander had the edge in the fourth, 16-14. McIntosh led a balanced Lovell attack with 15 points, and Snell added 12 points, Wardell 10, Baxendale 9, Mickelson 6, Flood 4, Mayes and Madison Bryson 2 each, Bischoff 1.
Loss to Worland
After playing the late night game Friday, the Lady Bulldogs experienced bus problems on the trip back to Lovell as the brakes froze. It was after midnight before they got home, and they were back on a bus at 8 the next morning to make the trip back to Worland, where they faced the defending state champion Worland Lady Warriors on their home court.
It wasn’t pretty.
Worland blitzed the Lady Bulldogs 29-5 in the first quarter and outscored them 17-11 in the second to lead 46-16 at halftime. Lovell won the third 11-7 and Worland the fourth 10-5 for a 63-32 win by the home team.
“It was one of those games you look back at and realize it wasn’t going to be your game,” Edwards said. “It was 9-0 before we even knew what was happening. Worland has all the tools. They’re the defending state champions (in 3A). They have three players 5-10 and above and athletic guards who can shoot the ball.
“Unfortunately they hadn’t played to their potential this year until our game. We were the ones who got to witness them putting it all together for 32 minutes.”
Edwards said his team did battle, especially in the second half.
“Our legs were a little slow that morning,” he said. “Worland was a little bit fresher and shot lights out. I was proud of our girls. They came out and won the third quarter. We had challenged them (to do that) at halftime.”
Wardell finished with 9 points to lead Lovell in scoring. Baxendale added 8, McIntosh 5, Mickelson and Snell 4 each and Bryson 2. Bailey Gibbons and Lyndzay Rich scored 24 points each for Worland.
Lovell and Powell elected to not play the third-place game Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Cody Friday and Thermopolis Saturday, meeting a pair of non-conference opponents before starting the conference season on Jan. 20 at home against Greybull. Game times for both dates this weekend are 4 (JV) and 5:30 p.m.
“We have played six 3A teams so far and have two more this weekend,” Edwards said. “Cody is intense and will come at you. They execute well. They’re not a prolific offensive team, but they’re going to force you to defend until you make a mistake and they get a back-door layup or an easy post entry.”
Edwards said Cody’s Erika Larsen is back after two years of little play due to injuries and is a dominant post player. He said guard Ashlyn Bower can “knock down threes.”
Thermopolis is a “scrappy bunch similar to Cody,” Edwards said, adding that the Lady Bobcats are a disciplined team that will execute in the
By David Peck