Bluejacket survives regional
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
2/19/13 at 3:33 AM
Bluejacket's girls still need three wins to reach the Class B state basketball tournament, but the Chieftains have gone a long way already.
Three weeks ago, it looked like they might not be going anywhere - not after coach Michael Schnatz lost six players in a span of days.
Two quit, two more became academically ineligible and two more still (Morgan McHone, Laycee Pfister) were sidelined by illness.
Drama, drama everywhere. That's how senior guard Samantha Williams described life in her Craig County community north of Vinita.
"We had certain things that shouldn't have been affecting games," she said. "I just wanted to get past it and try to stay together as a team."
With postseason play fast approaching, what were the No. 15 Chieftains (16-7) to do?
They needed the 5-foot-10 Williams, who has done plenty as a four-year starter, to do even more. And they needed players with scant experience to step up in a big way.
Both happened last weekend and the Chieftains punched their ticket to the area tournament with a 53-38 win over Asher in Saturday's regional consolation final at Beggs.
Williams scored a season-high 38 points in Friday's win over Oilton and 31 against Asher, going over 1,000 career points in the process. She now has 1,026.
Tristen Chapman, a 5-foot-5 sophomore who replaced the 5-foot-9 McHone in the post, had six rebounds and a key steal and layup against Asher. Senior guard Montana Scott went 5-for-7 from 3-point range and has averaged 11 points per game since joining the starting lineup.
"It's exciting when you're winning with JV girls and girls who haven't played very much," Schnatz said.
Katie Frances saw her first significant varsity action against Oilton and snagged eight rebounds.
Meanwhile, sophomores Jazz West and Sierra Birdsell, the only others with starting experience before the shakeup, continued to contribute with defensive quickness. West has more than 70 steals.
The road likely gets tougher Thursday when the Chieftains face No. 6 Burlington at Cleveland High School. Burlington senior guard Tiffany Rieger scored 57 points in a triple-overtime win over No. 2 Lomega in November.
But reinforcements could be on the way, with Pfister and possibly McHone expected to return this week.
Besides, "it's all gravy from here," Schnatz said. "We keep telling the girls to relax, play hard and have fun. Win or lose, we're further than we expected to be."
Mike Brown 918-581-8390