HAMILTON — The Arlee Scarlets finished the Class C Western Divisional Tournament with mixed results.
The Scarlets, who finished second in Class C last year during the 2016-2017 season, fell short in their quest to return back to State in 2018 falling two points short of qualifying for the consolation final with a 44-42 loss to Manhattan Christian Saturday morning.
Arlee began its quest for another State bid by upsetting the previously undefeated Clark Fork-Superior Co-op 57-49 in the first round of Divisionals.
The victory over the Lady Bobcats set up the possibility of the Scarlets meeting up and getting a rematch of the Class 14-C Divisional semifinals with Charlo, but both teams eventually fell in their semifinal games as Arlee fell to Twin Bridges 44-35 and then fell in the consolation semifinal match with a 44-42 loss to Manhattan Christian.
Clark Fork-Superior struggled to match up and failed to find an answer on how to defend Scarlets Class C All-State player Alyssa Vanderberg.
“They really didn’t have a girl and a defense to break up the press and we were able to get the ball inside to her,” Scarlets coach Bill Stockton said. “We didn’t let the Lady Bobcats play as fast as they wanted us to play. There were a lot of good lanes, high percentage shots and advantages.”
Stockton said the victory, accompanied by his team’s big-game experience, helped build momentum for the remainder of the tournament as they headed into their semifinal matches with Twin Bridges, a program that finished third in last year’s state finals.
“The victory was huge for getting some momentum and we knew exactly what we had to do headed into the tournament,” Stockton said. “We knew they were going to be extremely aggressive with their press and we had to pressure their guards in order to get the momentum of the game. We were able to handle their pressure and it took some time to break their press with wide-open lanes. We were able to take some with our offense and not let them dictate the pace of that game.”
The Scarlets were unable to sustain their momentum in the second round. They struggled against Twin Bridges player Kailee Oliverson, who was signed to the University of Nevada Wolfpack and matched up with Vanderberg, who was neutralized by Oliverson.
“Twin Bridges had a great defensive game plan and they doubled-team Alyssa,” Stockton said. “Oliverson played them in the middle of the key and they put their better defending guard on Alyssa and took away the inside presence. We can generate a lot of the same big-time experience. The Oliverson girl and the senior guard didn’t give us a good look and some big shots.”
The Scarlets, who fell behind 10-0 early in the game, eventually calmed down but were unable to recover from the early portion of the game against the Lady Falcons and fell 44-35.
The Scarlets struggled against Manhattan Christian, a team that is built similar to Twin Bridges. Arlee had a six-point lead late in the game but was unable to sustain it with late turnovers in the 44-42 loss in the morning.
“They were very similar to Twin Bridges and they brought a lot of tall players who came in and rebounded,” Stockton said. I think that was one of the reasons we lost. I felt like, in general, we showed how tired we were because of the weekend and the night before the Friday night game, we had to turn around and play in the morning. We didn’t quite have our legs underneath us in the later portion of the tournament.”
The Scarletse were able to set up a last-second shot but just couldn’t make the basket.
“We had a shot set up right at the end of the game and it just didn’t go in,” Stockton said. “We were up in the fourth quarter, had a bad possession and made a bad decision. That ended up costing us the game.”
Stockton, who has made a significant commitment to developing the Scarlets’ basketball program into one of the best in the state in Montana, said the team looks to bring back several key components from this year’s successful team.
“The big thing that I see is we will have a couple of seniors and a big chunk of our team coming back from last year including Noelle (West), Nellie (Desjarlais),” Stockton said. “Alyssa is her second year starting and has been an All-State player since her sophomore year. We have a big part of our team coming back and having a lot of seniors next year our senior maturity will really show itself. I would like to hope senior leadership shows and we make better basketball decisions.”
Another player the Scarlets anticipate coming back that really came of age in the playoffs is guard Emily Fiddler.
“Emily is a really great ball handler and defensively, she gets right up on her girls,” Stockton said. “In that Twin Bridges game, she guarded an All-State guard and never gave her a clean lane to the basket. She forced several turnovers and Emily is pretty consistent. We are looking forward to bringing her back with all of our other starters. She had a big 3-pointer against Superior and had a couple of baseline runners. She plays with a lot of heart and intensity every time she is on the court.”
Manhattan Christian 44, Arlee 42 (lo)
At Hamilton in a tight, battle to the brink elimination contest, the Lady Eagles squeezed past the Scarlets to bring their season to a close. During the course of the contest, Summer DarcAngelo surpassed the varsity career century (100) point threshold.
Arlee (19-7), 11C Manh.C (17-6)
Arlee 14 5 15 8 – 42
Manh.C. 7 14 11 12 – 44
ARLEE – Alyssia Vanderburg 8 0-0 17, Nellie Desjarlais 5 0-0 11, Noelle West 1 2-3 4, Summer DarcAngelo 2 0-2 4, Emily Fiddler 1 0-0 2, Sydni Rogers 1 0-1 2, Ashley Tanner 1 0-1 2.
MANHATTAN CHRISTIAN – Ashley Braaksma 12, Kelsey Heidema 10, Alex Veltkamp 10, Kelcie Hill 6, Jill Frye 3, Shelby Walls 3.
3FGs: A2-17 (Desjarlais 1-4, Vanderburg 1-7), MC (Frye , Hill ). A36reb (Vanderburg 16, Desjarlais 8, West 4, Tanner 3, DarcAngelo 3, Fiddler 2). A7ast (Desjarlais 2, Tanner 2, Fiddler 2, West). A9stl (Vanderburg 3, West 2, Desjarlais 2, DarcAngelo 2). A2blk (Vanderburg, DarcAngelo). A11defl (Vanderburg 4, Fiddler 3, West 2, DarcAngelo 2). (Sa24Feb18gm10div)
Note to readers: records of opposing teams have been reconstructed as best as could be ascertained.
Twin Bridges 44, Arlee 35 (semi)
At Hamilton in a divisional semifinal showdown, the Lady Falcons created their own updraft to gain flight in the first half and were able to fend off the Scarlets the remainder of the contest. Alyssia Vanderburg attained the summit of the varsity career 1300-point plateau.
Arlee (19-6), 12C Twin Bridges (21-2)
Arlee 7 10 10 8 – 35
Twin Bridges 13 12 10 9 – 44
ARLEE – Alyssia Vanderburg 5 1-1 13, Nellie Desjarlais 3 2-2 10, Sydni Rogers 2 0-2 5, Summer DarcAnjelo 3, Ashley Tanner 0 2-2 2, Emily Fiddler 2.
TWIN BRIDGES – Kailee Oliverson 16, RaeAnne Bendon 10, Michaela Madden 8, Clancy Phillips 6, Blu Keim 3, Avery George 1.
A6-19 (Vanderburg 2-4, Desjarlais 2-7, Rogers 1-2, DarcAngelo 1-3), TB4 (Bendon 2, Phillips 2). A25reb (Desjarlais 10, Vanderburg 5, West 4, Rogers 2, Fiddler 2, Tanner, DarcAngelo). A8ast (West 5, Tanner, Fiddler, DarcAngelo). A7stl (Desjarlais 2, Vanderburg 2, West, Tanner, Fiddler). A2blk (Vanderburg 2). A7defl (Vanderburg 3, Fiddler 2). (Fr23Feb18gm8div)
Arlee 57, Clark Fork 49
At the Western C Divisional at Hamilton, the Scarlets handed the Alberton-Superior coop Lady Mountain Cats their first loss of the season. Sophomore Emily Fiddler crested the century (100) point plateau for varsity career scoring.
Arlee (19-5), 13C Clark Fork (20-1)
Clark Fork 18 11 13 7 – 49
Arlee 16 18 13 10 – 57
CLARK FORK – Kenzie Mueller 15, Hailey Kelly 11, Madison Mask 11, Madison Lommen 6, Montanna Baughman 4, Margaret Parkin 2.
ARLEE – *Alyssia Vanderburg 15 2-5 32, Emily Fiddler 5 0-0 11, Nellie Desjarlais 3 2-4 9, *Noelle West 0 2-8 2, Summer DarcAngelo 2, Sydni Rogers 1.
3FGs: CF1 (Kelly), A2-7 (Desjarlais 1-1, Fiddler 1-1). A39reb (Vanderburg 12, Desjarlais 9, West 8, Ashley Tanner 5, Fiddler 3, DarcAngelo 2). A17ast (West 9, Fiddler 3, Desjarlais 2, Tanner, Vanderburg, DarcAngelo. A10stl (Vanderburg 4, Fiddler 3, DarcAngelo 2, West). A8blk (West 2, Desjarlais 2, Vanderburg 2, DarcAngelo 2). A8defl (Fiddler 5). (Th22Feb18gm3div)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where Scarlet sideline specs differ from venue/media coverage: Vanderburg 30p, West 4p