Coming off of two victories the weekend before, the Lady Bison basketball team entered Friday night’s contest with Douglas knowing that it would be a tough game against a team that had so far this season beaten all of its opponents by at least 30 points.
The Lady Bearcats proved why they are the No. 1 rated team in 3A basketball as Douglas defeated Buffalo 67-44. To the Lady Bison’s credit, the first half was very close and Buffalo held Douglas to under 70 points — something no other team has mustered this season.
“It was such a bummer, we played so well against Douglas in the first half,” said coach Michelle Dahlberg. “They pressed us and we were able to score in transition. We were down 29-26 at half time and it felt like we played possession-for-possession with them.”
Sophomore Cantrell Rosalez led the Lady Bison with 13 points and six boards. Kendall Tietjen added nine points and eight rebounds. Lexi Rule came up with three steals.
On Saturday, the Lady Bison traveled to Newcastle to face the Lady Dogies who were 4-4 after a convincing victory over Thermopolis on Friday night. It was the Lady Bison’s first road game since Jan. 7.
In the first minutes of the game, the Lady Bison looked a little sluggish and committed multiple turnovers. To add to Buffalo’s woes, both Tess Rule and Tietjen were in foul trouble early, forcing Dahlberg to go deeper into her bench and more frequently than she has the past few weeks.
“Being in foul trouble that early had a huge impact on our play,” Dahlberg said. “When you have four players sitting by halftime, that just has a huge impact on the team’s rotation. As I said last week, I felt like we were figuring out good rotations, and then that all kind of got thrown off.”
The Lady Bison trailed 15-8 at the end of the first quarter. Then early in the second quarter, the Lady Bison’s seventh personal foul set up one-and-one situations for Newcastle for the duration of the half.
Despite a relentless Lady Dogies defense, the Lady Bison found success in getting the ball down low to Danica Boyce. The Lady Dogies were not ready for her left-handed shooting underneath the basket and the Lady Bison went on a 9-3 run to pull within one point, trailing Newcastle 18-17.
With a narrow lead, the Lady Dogies took a timeout to regroup. Coming out of the timeout, it was all Newcastle as the Lady Dogies put together their own run. In the final minutes of the second quarter, the Lady Dogies defense forced multiple turnovers, while the offense put the game on cruise control, hitting 3s and running up the score.
By the end of the half, the Lady Bison trailed 32-19.
“They were playing on their home court and they shot just absolutely incredible,” Dahlberg said. “They couldn’t miss. We were a little sluggish after playing a tough game Friday and then getting on the bus Saturday morning. We definitely didn’t have our legs under us.”
Coming out of the break, there was no good news for the Lady Bison. The Lady Dogies defense that had held the Lady Bison’s leading scorer Rosalez scoreless in the first half came out of the locker room with an answer for Boyce, too. The Lady Bison scored eight in the third quarter and nine in the fourth in a disappointing 61-36 loss.
Boyce led the way with 15 points to go along with eight boards. Tess Rule had nine points and four rebounds.
Friday, the Lady Bison (4-7, 0-2) play Thermopolis (2-9, 0-3) on the road. Like the Lady Bison, the Lady Bobcats are a young team that features a number of juniors and sophomores.
The Lady Bobcats are known for taking any 3-point look they get, so Dahlberg said the Lady Bison will defend the perimeter “and not let them get into a rhythm.”
“They’re a young team,” Dahlberg said. “But they’re super scrappy and play hard, so we’ll have to be mentally ready to play and the girls seem to be.”