By Josh Samuelson
The Terry Lady Terriers went into the 4C District Tournament as the favorites. They were the top seed with a 15-2 record and a No. 7 ranking in the AP Power Poll.
But a disastrous pair of games nearly ended the Terry season way too early.
The Lady Terriers lost a semi-final game 62-60 to eventual champion Northern Cheyenne. They bounced back with a 49-33 win over Ekalaka to assure them a spot in the Southern C, but then lost an ugly 42-36 game against Plevna, which saw the Lady Cougars hold a lead despite having just three players on the court.
In the tournament, the Lady Terriers shot an abysmal 23 percent from the field and turned the ball over an average of 24 times per game.
But this is still a team that comes into the Southern C with a 17-4 record and has the right attitude.
"We're relaxed and ready to go," Terry Head Coach Sharilyn Kortum said. "After last weekend, we feel like we have nothing to lose. We're hoping it was a fluke. I think that we're at a point where we can't do any worse than we did. We can only play better.
“We remind ourselves that it's just a game, go out and have fun. Win, lose or draw, if we play hard, we'll be happy."
The Lady Terriers opened the season on a seven-game winning streak before losing to Custer. Then they rattled off seven more wins in a row before losing to Northern Cheyenne. Those two teams are the top two seeds in the Southern C from the 4C.
During the season, the Lady Terriers had wins over Custer and Northern Cheyenne, and swept the regular-season series with Plevna.
So, perhaps the 4C Tournament was a bit of a fluke.
"We worked hard all year, we worked on a lot of things," Kortum said. "It was just unfortunate that last weekend happened. I can't explain it; hopefully we can do a lot better."
The Lady Terriers have a balanced offense that also happens to be extremely young.
Junior Dani Dukart and sophomore Amy Browning each averaged over 11 points per game this season. Junior Amanda Haidle averaged 8.2 points per game, and then upped that to 11.4 per game in the tournament.
Carly Stickel and Lorna Wollman, both juniors, also contribute to the Terry offense, along with a deep bench.
Perhaps the toughest part about Terry's rough 4C is the fact that now they open the tournament with top-ranked and undefeated Harlowton-Ryegate.
What could have been the tournament's championship game will now be the tournament's first game at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
"For us, right now, no matter who we play, we have to play to our capabilities," Kortum said. "Or, we are going to lose to anybody, whether it's Harlowton-Ryegate or not. We have to show up and play, no matter who it is."
The Lady Terriers can look back only one year to find a magical run. They qualified for the Southern C Tournament as the third seed. They knocked off Absarokee 66-58 in the first round and then beat Roberts 66-55 in the semi-finals.
And then, the Lady Terriers beat a Broadview-Lavina team that had just handed Harlowton-Ryegate their only loss of the season. The Lady Terriers won the Southern C title 64-54 over Broadview-Lavina.
But the Lady Terriers graduated Micah Kirkpatrick (now a key player off the bench for the Miles Community College Lady Pioneers), Robbyn Reukauf, Natasha Fredrickson and Kalli Householder.
"We peaked at the right time last year," Kortum said. "That was exciting; everyone stepped up and we had a good run. It was a good experience, but it's a whole different team.”
“We have no seniors, and the sophomores have had to step up. They're taking on a new role. The experience is good, but it boils down to whether the team we have now shows up. We can't rely on the fact that we did it last year."
The winner of the Terry/Harlowton-Ryegate blockbuster will face the Broadview-Lavina/Custer winner in the semi-finals at 6:30 on Friday night. The losers will play at 1:30 p.m.
Published March 3, 2010