A late-season push put the Savage High School girl’s basketball team in position to do well in the District 2C tournament, but an even better tournament run got the Warriors a spot in the Divisional tournament.
Savage entered the district tournament the No. 6 seed, having to, on paper, most likely beat one of the five higher-seeded teams ahead of them to advance to the divisional.
That came to fruition, with a win over No. 5 seed Culbertson, and it capped off a season that, thus far, was filled with uncertainty until Jan. 30.
On that date, Savage defeated Bainville 54-38, and while it was only the team’s fourth win of the season to that point, it was the win that gave the team confidence it could make this sort of postseason run.
After that win, the Warriors defeated Broadus, and a week later, after a couple losses, they closed out the season with two wins.
That streak of winning four out of the last six games gave the team confidence heading into the postseason. Especially after the win over Richey-Lambert, a 13-point win to end the regular season, Savage head coach April McPherson said the team started to really have the feeling that they could do well in districts.
“We, toward the end of the season, we really started coming together, playing as a team, just improving a ton over those last few weeks of the season,” she said.
When the season started and got going a bit, McPherson said the team wasn’t sure they would be able to go as far as the Divisional round at the season’s end, but the said the team kept playing hard and improving.
After the first eight games of the season, Savage had a 3-5 record, sitting right on the edge of avoiding or not avoiding a play-in game.
During the second half of the season, though, the Warriors went 4-3 and avoided a play-in game, something that really helped the team, McPherson said.
“That was big for us. I think it could have been different, you know, if we had to play in one of those play-in games,” she said.
Defense was there for the Warriors for most of the season, but Since a 39-22 win over Fairview on Jan. 21, the two things that had been hurting the Warriors were starting to get better: Scoring and turnovers.
The Warriors weren’t aggressive on offense and weren’t able to always see an opportunity to score or make a play, but that improved a lot over the second half of the season, as did taking care of the ball and cutting down their turnovers.
Savage has a good mix of older, experienced players and talented, younger players, and both groups of players stepped up in the district tournament.
Teah Conradsen (a sophomore), Brooke Reuter (a freshman) and Taryn Hagler (a senior) especially stepped up and earned honorable mentions in the tournament awards.
Reuter stepped up offensively and scored well, including a 12-point performance in the divisional-clinching game against Culbertson, and she had a terrific tournament on the defensive side of things, which earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Second Team Defense.
Hagler had a slow season McPherson said, but in the tournament, the senior stepped up and scored 10.3 points per game, including a 14-point game against Culbertson.
The joy of clinching a spot in the Divisional Tournament is unfortunately met by a first-round meeting against the District 2C champion, Plentywood.
McPherson said that early on during the long break between the district and divisional tournament, she and the team are having fun at practice and doing some different things to keep them upbeat and ready.
Against Plentywood, McPherson said she wants to the Warriors to have some fun, play hard, stay loose and play confidently.