Lady Bulldogs send a message south with weekend sweep

David Peck
Chalk a couple up for the North. The Lovell Lady Bulldogs hosted a pair of foes from the 3A Southwest over the weekend and came away with two wins and giving them a bit of a preview for the upcoming regional tournament.

Lovell topped Pinedale 32-27 in a defensive battle Friday, then beat a tough Lander squad Saturday afternoon, 52-40.

“It was nice for our conference to be able to get some wins against the South,” Lovell coach Chris Edwards noted.

Friday’s game was a rather sloppy affair in the first half as the two teams combined for 28 turnovers, unofficially, 17 by Lovell, but the Lady Bulldog defense set the tone, holding Pinedale to single digit scoring in all four quarters. Lovell led 6-5 after the first quarter, but Pinedale won the second 8-5 to lead 13-11 at halftime.

Lovell built an 11-6 lead early in the second on a three-pointer by Amee Newman on a kick-out from Kallie Owens, followed by an in-bound play from Newman to Owens. But Pinedale scored the final 7 points of the half.

“We went ice cold the last seven minutes of
the second quarter,” Edwards said.

The two teams traded baskets in the third quarter as Pinedale led 22-19 with one quarter to play, but Lovell dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring Pinedale 13-5 to take the game 32-27. Lovell held Pinedale to two buckets in the final quarter, one a three-pointer.

“People who like a defensive battle would have enjoyed the game Friday night,” Edwards said. “Most of our turnovers didn’t come against Pinedale’s press. We just didn’t make the correct decisions in the half court. Our defensive game plan, I felt, was solid, and our girls executed that game plan.

“Our goal was to limit their three-point shooters, especially (Sara) Kunard and (Elyn) Bowers,” Edwards said. “On the night we held them to one three-point make, and our guards, especially Amee and Kenadee (Rael) were told not to help off defensively. I felt like Pinedale didn’t have a pot of possessions that weren’t impacted by our defensive energy.”

Edwards noted that Pinedale came into the game leading Class 3A in scoring at nearly 61 points per game, but the Lady Bulldogs were
able to hold the visitors to 27 points.

“If we’d have hit our free throws (5-14 as a team) and finished our looks inside, we could have really separated ourselves against Pinedale,” he said. “In the second half we valued the ball much better and started making the extra pass. Kenadee and Kallie did a good job in the fourth making the extra pass to each other, and Lily (Edwards) was able to spark us with a three-pointer to give us some breathing room.”

Though no player got into double figures for the Lady Bulldogs, seven players scored, led by Newman and Owens with 8 points each. Edwards added 5 points, Raegan May, Rael and Libby Mickelson 3 apiece, Summer Teter 2.

Mickelson led the team with nine rebounds, and Owens grabbed eight boards, Edwards seven and Newman six. Rael led with four assists.

Bowers led Pinedale with 14 points, and Kunard had 7. The rest of the team combined scored 6 points.

Saturday win

The run-and-gun Lady Tigers came to town Saturday, and while they did have a strong first half, Lovell was able to shut down the team in green in the second half.

The first half was tight all the way, with the two teams going toe to toe. Lander led 14-12 after the first quarter and 25-24 at halftime. Owens dropped in 8 points against tall Lander freshman center Adelyn Anderson, and Teter and Mickelson scored 5 points each, Rael 4.

“Lander has good size and speed,” Edwards said. “They are tough to match up with because they have potential threats from all five positions. They were playing without one of their starters, Megan Winfield. As tough as we were defensively Friday, we were a step slower against Lander. Lander has a solid post player who created some mismatches for us.”

The Lady Bulldogs turned up the defense in the second half and outscored Lander 10-7 in the third quarter to lead 34-32 after three, taking the lead for good, 28-27, on two free throws by Owens and a strong drive by Edwards.
A trey by Edwards boosted the Lovell lead to 33-27, but Lander cut the deficit to two points at the quarter break.

“We’ve really challenged Lily to not settle for three-point shots and to drive to the rim,” Edwards said.

Lovell outscored Lander 18-8 in the fourth quarter to pull away, holding the visitors to two baskets and four free throws. The Lady Bulldogs started the fourth with a 12-2 run that created separation as Teter went off for 8 points, and with Lander having to foul to stop the clock, Lovell hit 11 of 15 foul shots in the final quarter.

“As poor as we shot (free throws) Friday, we really took advantage of Lander’s aggressive defense by hitting 19 of 27 free throws,” Edwards noted. “Summer came in Saturday and played with a high degree of energy, and her shooting gave us that extra dimension as an offensive threat.

“Defensively, we came together as a unit in the fourth quarter. They responded after a time out (in the third) and executed better in our half-court offenses.”

Teter finished with 14 points, Owens 12, Edwards 8, Rael 7, Keyanna Walker and Mickelson 5 each and Connie Hall 1. Owens led the team with a remarkable 20 rebounds, while Teter snared eight boards and had three steals. Edwards finished with five rebounds and four steals, and Mickelson had three assists.

“Kallie battled Lander’s post players all night,” Edwards said. “Not too many players can lay claim to 20 rebounds. Libby also gave us some strength inside.”