Last Thursday, the Maidens opened their tournament against the Lady Maroons of Butte Central, the top-seeded team that emerged from the Southwestern A Conference tournament. Both team records were closely aligned, which suggested the contest to play out within a few possessions. The game almost followed such a script to the letter.
Ronan revved up their offensive engine early, jumping out to a double figure first frame lead that would soon expand to as much as 19 early on in the second period. Ordinarily such a lead in a divisional tournament would indicate who will advance to the next round, but the Lady Maroons had other ideas.
After an attrocious shooting display during the first frame by Butte Central, the Maidens could only sigh with dismay as they watched their 19 point lead evaporate in its entirety until their opponent held a one point edge entering intermission. Spearheading the onslaught would be Lady Maroon Tricia Joyce, the Fall 2018 medalist at the State A golf tournament and four time all-state golfer. She implemented the basketball equivalent of her best putting stroke and dropped five triples on the Maidens in the second quarter, with her mates lending a hand to take over the lead. Joyce would net seven over the course of the contest.
After halftime, the Maidens would trail by a couple of possessions, but the lead never got insurmountable entering the final frame. Scoring was quite even in the final period with the Maidens having numerous opportunities to take over the lead. But lost opportunities that included bungled bunnies and a flat free throw conversion rate would allow Butte Central to wiggle off the hook to advance to the next round.
Both Jaylea Luncefored along with Tiana Ulutoa turned in double doubles, while Regan Clairmont also notched double figures.
Last Friday, the Maidens performed with much more consistency as they battled with the Lady Broncs of Frenchtown. Both teams match up against each other well, which led to a close game that ended up tied in regulation for force an overtime period. Frenchtown had to rally to catch Ronan at the end of regulation, but the Maidens were able to pull out the game during the extra frame to advance to Saturday morning.
Jaylea Lunceford and Tiana Ulutoa notched double figures while collaborating on 16 rebounds between them.
The contest between Ronan and Libby would be a rematch of the NWA Conference consolation championship from a week prior.
The lead see-sawed back and forth for the first three quarters until Ronan was able to gain a slight edge entering the final frame. But then their shooting accuracy plummeted, followed by their free throws from the charity stripe being just enough off that it left the door open for Libby to catch them. The Lady Loggers were more than willing to oblige as they eliminated Ronan from the remainder of competition to end their season.
Lunceford notched another double double, while Tiana Ulutoa came very close to doing the same with ten points and eight boards.
Maiden head coach Steve Woll emphasized that his team improved as the season progressed. We finished strong and were less than eight minutes away from a state tournament berth. Had our chances. Thats all you can ask for from a team that gave it their all. Thats why we do this, for moments like these.
The game culminates the prep career of seniors Maidens Tiana Ulutoa and Aislyn Baker.
2019 Western A Divisional
Libby 49, Ronan 37 (loser out)
Ronan (11-14), Libby (16-9)
Libby 8 12 10 19 49
Ronan 12 7 12 6 37
LIBBY Jayden Winslow 16, Samantha Miller 9, Emma Gruber 7, McKenzie Proffitt 6, Alli Collins 4, Syd Gier 3, Sammee Bradeen 1, noID 3.
RONAN Jaylea Lunceford 5 1-3 12(11r,1b), Tiana Ulutoa 4 2-4 10(8r,3a,1s), Kieauna DeRoche 3 1-2 7, Madeline McCrea 1 2-2 4(7r,2b), Ari Burke 1(1r,1a,1s), Regan Clairmont 0 0-2 0(1a,1s), Aislyn Baker 0 0-2 0(1r,1a), Madison Clairmont 0 0-1 0(2a).
3FGs L (Miller 3-7, Gier 1-1, Winslow 1-2, Gruber 1-3, noID 1-1), R4-17 (DeRoche 3-3, Lunceford 1-1)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where sideline spec/film review differs from media coverage: Baker 1p, Burke 0p
Ronan (11-13), Frenchtown (10-13)
Frenchtown 4 10 6 19 5 44
Ronan 9 14 5 11 8 47
FRENCHTOWN Faith Rebich 12, Cassidy Bagnell 10, Lauren Demmons 7, Claire Bagnell 5, Kiya Shelton 4, Hailey Arthur 3, Cassidy Moen 2, Hope Rebich 1.
RONAN Tiana Ulutoa 5 9-14 21(9r,1a,6s), Jaylea Lunceford 5 0-0 10(7r,2a,2s,1b), Regan Clairmont 2 1-2 6(1r,2s), Kieauna DeRoche 2 1-4 5(1r,1a,1s), Madeline McCrea 2(5r,1a,1s) Madison Clairmont 0 2-2 2(5r,3a,3s,1b), Ari Burke 1(2r).
3FGs F4-19 (), R3-17 (Ulutoa 2-4, R.Clairmont 1-7). (Fr22Feb19gm10div)
Butte Central 57, Ronan 54
Tiana Ulutoa crested the double century (200) point plateau for season scoring, while Kieauna DeRoche crested the century (100) point plateau for varsity career scoring.
NWA Ronan (10-13), SWA Butte Central (10-11)
Ronan 21 10 7 16 54
Butte Central 6 26 10 15 57
RONAN Jaylea Lunceford 6 3-7 15(12r,1a,1s), Tiana Ulutoa 5 2-11 12(10r,1a,2s), Regan Clairmont 2 5-8 11(6r,1a,2s), Kieauna DeRoche 1 4-5 7(2r,1a), Madeline McCrea 2 0-1 4(7r,1a,3b), Madison Clairmont 1 0-0 3, Ari Burke 0 2-2 2, Aislyn Baker (2r,1a)
BUTTE CENTRAL Tricia Joyce 23, Amira Bolton 12, Sophie Thatcher 8, Delaney Hasquet 6, Madison Kump 6, Emma Keeley 2.
3FGs BC 10-25 (Joyce 7-9, Kump 2-9, S.Thatcher 1-4), R4-15 (R.Clairmont 2-7, M.Clairmont 1-1, DeRoche 1-3). (Th21Feb19gm6div)
DBCvenue stats: Lunceford 15 (12r,1a,1s; XO: 11r), Ulutoa 12 (12r,1a,2s,1b; XO: 10r), Regan 11(3r,1a,1s), Kieauna 7 (2r), Madeline McCrea 4(6r,1a,1b), Madison 3(5r,1s), Ari Burke 0 2-2 2, Aislyn (2r,1a). tmBC(34r,10a,6s)