The Cut Bank Lady Wolves went 1-2 in their opening weekend of the 2019-20 season. The local cagers, who lost a bulk of last season’s lineup to graduation, opened with back to back losses to experienced teams who competed at the State Tournament a season ago before defeating a rebuilding Chinook squad.
Cut Bank opened play last Thursday with Harlem, the favorite to win the 2B this season, and fell behind 19-7 after the first quarter. Harlem continued to capitalize on Cut Bank turnovers in the second stanza and pushed their lead to 41-19 at the half. The Lady Wolves managed just eight second half points and they fell 64-24 to the Wildcats.
Senior Aryana Black scored 11 points to lead the Lady Wolves followed by fellow senior Jada Rides at the Door with 10. Junior Sadie Pepion rounded out the scoring with three points.
Cut Bank traveled to Shelby for the weekend for a pair of non-conference games beginning with Missoula Loyola on Friday. Loyola finished third at the State Tournament a season ago and flexed their experience early as they jumped out to a 23-6 lead after the first quarter. Cut Bank was outscored 16-10 in the second stanza and trailed 39-16 at the half. The Lady Wolves were outscored 30-10 in the second half and fell 69-26.
Black scored 12 points in the loss followed by Rides at the Door with seven. Sienna Spotted Bear scored five points and Pepion added two.
“Those opening two games might be two of the best teams we will see in the regular season,” said head coach Brandon Kavanagh. “That’s a tough opening set of games for almost an entirely new varsity lineup and we didn’t make adjustments well. Both teams put a bunch of pressure on us and we turned the ball over a ton in those games. Our half court defense wasn’t bad but when you’re turning it over that often you don’t get to play much half court defense or offense. It was good for us to see where we are and how hard we are going to have to push each other every day to get to where we want to be.”
Cut Bank took on Chinook Saturday morning and after a sluggish start from both teams the Lady Wolves were on top 11-4 after the first quarter. Cut Bank put up 19 points in the second stanza behind ten from Spotted Bear and the lead grew to 30-8 at the half. Cut Bank outscored Chinook 13-6 in the third quarter to take a 43-14 lead and cruised to the 58-22 victory.
Rides at the Door scored 20 points to lead the Lady Wolves followed by Spotted Bear with 12. Black scored eight points, freshman Aliyah Cruz hit a pair of shots from long range for six, senior Sam Burke scored four, Pepion scored three, senior Hannah Fetters and freshman Maddie Baker scored two apiece and freshman Kendra Spotted Bear rounded out the scoring with a free throw.
“It was great to end the weekend on a positive note where we were able to be the team putting pressure on people and using our size advantage on offense,” said Kavanagh. “Jackie Waller came in off the bench and did a great job setting the tone for us defensively and we followed her lead. The girls shook off the opening two games and just focused on what we needed to do in that game and work on things to make us better for the upcoming conference season.”
Cut Bank will close out 2019 with a pair of conference tilts on the road. Friday the Lady Wolves will be in Fairfield to battle the 1B favorites with action slated to tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday the Lady Wolves will take on Conrad with tip off scheduled for 4:30 p.m.