Lady Pioneers snap multiple streaks in Chinook win
January 29, 2020
When the final buzzer sounded, the Big Sandy Lady Pioneers started embracing and jumping up and down on the sideline.
With a 36-30 triumph Thursday against the visiting Chinook Sugarbeeters, the Pioneer girls ended a couple of significant skids that were weighing heavily on a tough-luck squad.
The victory represented the first win in District 9C play for Big Sandy in more than two years, when they trumped Hays-Lodgepole 50-39 on January 23, 2018.
Twenty-seven losses in the tough conference that produced two state championship teams between then and now ensued. There were also three losses to Chester-Joplin-Inverness by two points apiece, the latest less than a week prior.
The Pioneers had not won overall since their season-opening 51-25 rout over Dutton-Brady.
The girls were due. Overdue.
Powered by a pair of three-pointers drained by senior Seanna Demontiney and a couple fearless drives into the lane from senior Amanda Cline, Big Sandy staked a 10-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"It's been a long time since we won a 9C game," Pioneers coach Pete Jerrel said. "We talked about it all week (that) we have got to play with that kind of teamwork and intensity that we did at C-J-I."
Stifling defense prevented the Beeters from reaching a double-digit score until 1 minute, 54 seconds remained in the first half. The Pioneers went to the locker room ahead 18-12 and stretched their advantage to 24-12 early in the third stanza with points in the paint from freshman Madison Terry, then Demontiney and Cline.
Chinook still had fight in them, however, and came roaring back. They launched an 18-0 run that deflated the excitement among the black-clad Pioneer faithful, particularly when Torin Cecrle sank a three-pointer in front of the Chinook bench at the final horn to conclude the third quarter. That gave the Sugarbeeters their first lead, 25-24, since Allison Powell's free throw notched the first point of the game. They stretched it to 30-24 midway through the fourth quarter.
Though Big Sandy went scoreless for a stretch of almost eight minutes and had seen their lead completely evaporate, there would be a final run left in them. Freshman Angie Sant provided a spark off the bench and ended the drought with 3:45 to play. She quickly added another bucket to get the Pioneers within two, putting back a miss from freshman Mia Dilworth. Jaycee Worrall connected from 15 feet out to tie the contest with just under two minutes on the clock.
In the end, it came down to seasoned seniors hitting free throws. Seniors Cline and Lainey Gregory went a combined 6-for-6 from the line in the final minute to seal the win.
Gregory stepped up first, coming out of a scrum for a loose ball with a trip to the charity stripe as 37.9 seconds remained.
"I was just praying it goes in. I was just shaking so hard," Gregory said. "Once the first one went in, I knew I had the second one."
Likewise, Cline felt the pressure to add some insurance in her two subsequent trips to the line and helped pressure Powell into a costly turnover to preserve the win.
"I was shaking literally the entire time it was going up," Cline said of the first of the series of free throws. "I don't know why but I felt like it was definitely going in. I heard that cli-clink sound and I've never heard anything sweeter."
Cline finished with a game-high 13 points and Demontiney added 10 for the Pioneers in the win.
"There's a lot of hope for us now and I feel like our confidence is back now," Cline said.
"I think that as a team, we really needed that," Gregory said. "It lifted a weight that we've had on our shoulders for a long time."
For first-year coach Jerrel, it marked his first win in the league and the second overall win matches the prior season for Big Sandy with plenty of basketball left to play.
"The last game with (Chinook), we had a feeling we would win if we worked hard (in the rematch) and played as a team and we did," Demontiney said. "We did it as a team and everybody contributed."
The Pioneers (1-8, 2-10) basked in the afterglow of the big win with a day off Friday but returned to action Saturday and lost at Hays-Lodgepole. In the junior varsity game, the Pioneers fell by just 5 points to the Thunderbirds. Next up is a trip Friday to visit Denton-Geyser-Stanford with a JV tipoff at 3 p.m. and varsity at 6. Big Sandy is home Saturday to play conference leader Fort Benton with the same tipoff times.