Aliyah Cruz shot 55% from the field and finished with 22 points, and Kendra Spotted Bear scored 21 to lead the Cut Bank girls basketball team past Choteau, 71-48, on Senior Night at home Saturday night.
Cruz also had four steals and seven rebounds in the win.
Cruz and Spotted Bear were among five seniors honored prior to the game, along with MacKenzie Johnson, Reagan Wetzel and Darci Littrell.
Wetzel suited up for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury last month at Browning. She started and took the court with a fabric brace wrapped around her injured leg. The coaches agreed to exchange layups to begin the game. Wetzel made her final shot for Cut Bank. Then the Lady Wolves defense sat back as Choteau evened the score at 2-2, and Wetzel was done for the night.
“I talked to Choteau’s coach about swapping layups to start the game so Reagan could start on senior night,” head coach Brandon Kavanagh said. “She won’t suit up again and is going through physical training until she has surgery for her ACL.”
Spotted Bear made three 3-pointers on the night, as did Johnson, who finished with 11 points. Destini Anderson also scored 11 for the Lady Wolves, who led by four after the first period and nine at half before pulling away in the third. Makenna Burke scored six points for Cut Bank.
The bulk of Cruz’s points came in the second half. Cut Bank’s speed and ball control were too much for the Lady Bulldogs, who got a team-high 36 points from Ada Bieler. The Choteau senior made 13 of 14 free throw attempts.
Meanwhile, Cut Bank shot just 10 free throws as a team and made five of them.
“We’ve shot the ball well the last couple weeks, and that’s making up for our lack of size,” Coach Kavanagh said. “We’ve been able to force some turnovers and have been taking better care of the ball.”
Saturday against Whitefish, Cruz led the Lady Wolves with 19 points in a 60-22 win over class A Whitefish. She also had seven steals and six assists. Spotted Bear scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Anderson hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.
“(Cruz) has really turned it on the last couple weeks,” Kavanagh said. “She had been struggling with her shot but is always our most consistent ball handler and facilitator. Foul trouble is our biggest concern going forward. We can’t afford to be in it with our shortened bench, but we put some younger girls on the floor this last weekend to get them some experience for tournaments.”
Cut Bank hosts Browning on Thursday night before wrapping up the regular season Friday at Shelby. Games begin at 3 p.m. both nights.
The Lady Bulldogs will be back in town for the district tournament Feb. 16-18. Cut Bank will host the boys and girls district games.
Fairfield (8-1) looks to have the No. 1 seed locked up. Cut Bank (7-2) currently sits at No. 2, with Shelby (5-4) and Conrad (5-4) at third and fourth.
District ticket info
Tickets for the six sessions of the District 1B girls and boys tournaments Feb. 16-18 are available for purchase online through GOFAN. For more information, visit https://gofan.co/app/school/MT17081.
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