Maidens end season, drop two at state tournament

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The Ronan Maidens’ quest for the perfect season went unfulfilled with an unexpected 70-61 first round loss to Red Lodge Thursday afternoon the MetraPark Arena in Billings.

The Maidens struggled to find their offensive rhythm as they were outscored by the Lady Rams in three of the quarters.

Prior to entering the state tournament, the Maidens struggled with injuries to two of their key players: Alicia Camel and Lee Camel. Alicia Camel suffered a hand injury in the Western Class B semifinal game against Bigfork, and Lee Camel suffered an ankle injury in the tournament that kept her out of the Western Class B Divisional Tournament in their fourth match against Florence-Carlton.

In spite of being hampered by injuries, both the Camel cousins played and remained key contributors. Alicia Camel finished the Red Lodge game with 19 and Lee Camel had seven. The two combined for 26 of the Maidens’ 61 total points in the contest.

Ronan struggled to contain the Lady Rams’ Natalie Hilderman, who accounted for just under half of her team’s entire production and accounted for half of the Maidens’ production.

The Rams also received production from Zoe Cortner, who finished with 14, Kylie Kelly and Jillian LaValley finished with eight and Portia Cortner finished with five in the victory.

Guard Micalann McCrea led the Maidens’ offensive attack totaling 23 points but it wasn’t enough to make up for the normal offensive production by one of the Maidens’ leading scorers Lee Camel, who was hobbled with the ankle sprain and ended up scoring only seven.

The Maidens continued their struggle in the loser’s bracket tournament and they finished the season with a 59-49 loss to Three Forks in the consolation bracket.

The offensive production was more evenly distributed against Three Forks amongst the Maidens. Rona was led Alicia Camel, who finished the tournament with a total of 38 points in two games. McCrea had 13 points, Louett Conko-Camel finished with nine points, and Lee Camel had eight points in the season-finale loss.

Three Forks got offensive production from Kyle Olson, who finished with a team-leading 22 and Talyn Pitcher finished with 12 points.

Malta, the team that featured the now back-to-back Gatorade Player of the Yearhoneree and signee with the University of Montana Lady Griz Sophia Stiles, fell one point short in their championship quest with their 34-33 loss to Fairfield in the championship game.

The Maidens entered the state tournament with a perfect record having won their Class-B Western District and Divisional Tournament without losing once. During the season, Ronan defeated one of the top western teams, Florence-Carlton, four consecutive times, including two postseason wins in the Western Class B District in Hamilton and Divisional in Ronan.

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