Ladies perfect heading into conference play

By: 
Sonja Karp

Photo by Nicole McFarland/NLJ

Left: Tiernan Stanton took advantage of the Lady Bison overplaying her teammates in Buffalo last Saturday to score 10 points on open backside shots under the basket.

 
Right: Hunter McFarland heads to the net during the teams game against Buffalo. 

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Editor

 

The race for regional seeding began last week, and the Lady Dogies got off to a great start going 2-0 defeating the Lady Bobcats of Thermopolis 50-11 on Friday, and the No. 5-ranked Lady Bison of Buffalo 62-58 last Saturday. 

Head coach Chad Ostenson’s crew rolled over the Bobcats in the Dogie Dome, instituting a running clock just two minutes into the third quarter, then won a knock-down-drag-out battle against the Bison at their house.

“It really was a great way to start off the opening of quadrant play,” said Ostenson. “I was really happy with the way we played both nights. We came out and were all business, and we played good basketball both nights against two very different teams.” 

It was clear from the start that Newcastle had the upper hand against Thermopolis as they finished the first quarter up 16-0, then continued to hold the Bobcats scoreless until the 2:52 mark of the second quarter when they were finally able to take the lid off the basket and sink one from beyond the arc. That would be all from the visiting team in the first half, however, as Newcastle went into the locker room with a 32-3 lead. 

It was more of the same as play resumed, and the Lady Dogies extended their lead to 40, kicking in the mercy rule and a running clock for most of the second half. Establishing that lead gave the starters the opportunity to sit for most of the remainder of the contest and for the bench to get into the game.

“We didn’t run a lot of pressure defense, but we were very efficient shooting the ball. Suddenly it was a 30-point lead and not long after it was 40 points. We played solid man-to-man defense and it even kind of surprised me at how fast we got to a running clock,” Ostenson said. “It was nice to be able to get all the kids in so they could play a varsity game in the Dome. They took care of the ball better than they did in Wheatland so it was a good day all the way around.”

Jaylen Ostenson led her team with 18 points, Shelby Tidyman followed with 11 and MacKenzie Conzelman was close behind with 10 points. Hunter McFarland finished with 8 points while Tiernan Stanton added 2 to round out the scoring. 

Saturday afternoon presented a much different beast as the Lady Dogies traveled to Buffalo to take on the Lady Bison who were coming off a slim, 6-point loss to the No. 1-ranked Lady Bearcats in Douglas the night before. Buffalo led at the half of that contest so they had given the Lady ‘Cats all they could handle.

“They are athletic and work hard and shoot the ball well from about 15 feet out,” Ostenson acknowledged. “Their defense is smothering, and they go 84 feet all game long — but fortunately we kind of have all the tools to do some good things and the girls executed well.”

The Lady Dogies jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first couple of minutes of play, however Buffalo took a quick time out to talk things over and came back with an 8-0 run of their own to make the game interesting again.

“We talked in the time out that basketball is a game of runs,” Ostenson explained. “You have to take advantage of when you are on that run and weather the runs thrown at you. Fortunately, we were able to do that.”

At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Bison had claimed a 12-11 lead over Newcastle.  Turnovers early in the second quarter gave Buffalo the opportunity to pull out to a 5-point lead before three consecutive 3s, one by Tidyman and two by Conzelman, got the Lady Dogies back in the lead. From there, for the remainder of the half the two teams went blow for blow, however Newcastle outscored Buffalo to take the 27-25 point lead into the locker room.

“We had more turnovers than we wanted, but we had talked about throwing the ball deep to stretch their full court defense out a little more,” Ostenson said. “We knew that turnovers were a possibility, but that tactic also kept their full court defense a little more honest. They couldn’t bring three or four girls up on the ball without getting burned.” 

The third quarter saw the Lady Bison tie the game then take a slim 1-point lead. However, Ostenson hit from beyond the arc on three consecutive trips, then Conzelman took her turn to hit two 3s of her own on the next two trips and all of a sudden, Newcastle had pulled out to a 12-point lead to end the quarter.

Newcastle added 2 more points at the beginning of the fourth to stretch the lead to 14 before Buffalo was able to start chipping away at the lead.

Again, the two teams exchanged blows with Newcastle maintaining a 10- to 12-point lead, but they knew that Buffalo would not be rolling over and that they would have an answer. Buffalo got to within 2 points with 13 seconds left, but stellar free-throw shooting by Tidyman and Ostenson down the stretch ensured a 62-58 victory for the Lady Dogies.

“They don’t give us much room, but we’re starting to take advantage of that and make them pay. We’re driving by them when they are right up on us, we’re back cutting for open looks and we’re making deep passes to open up beneficial numbers for us in the full court,” Ostenson explained. “We also have several weapons from three so that usually turns out in our favor, because they have to come out and guard us. That opens up opportunities on the inside, and Tiernan had a good game because she was often left open on the back side which she took advantage of to score 10 points.” 

Once again, Newcastle finished the game with three players in double figures. Ostenson led all scorers with 27 points, Conzelman was next with 14 and Stanton had her 10. Tidyman added 7 points while McFarland chipped in 4 of her own.

The challenge only gets tougher this week as the Lady Dogies finish off the first round of quadrant match-ups in Douglas against the No. 1-ranked Lady Bearcats on Friday. 

“We’re excited for Douglas, but we also know that we need to stick to business,” Ostenson determined. “We played well in Buffalo in stretches, but we have some things we need to clean up. I like where we’re at right now, but we are in no way peaking yet.”

On Saturday, Newcastle will host Wheatland for a rematch against the Lady Bulldogs. Two weeks ago the two teams met, and Newcastle walked away with a decisive 52-24 victory. 

“Wheatland is a better team than our point spread was last time so we can’t fall asleep and overlook them,” Ostenson cautioned. “We have to bring our game every time we step on the court.”

The contest in Douglas tips off at 5:30 on Friday, and on Saturday action kicks off at 1:30.

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