Cowgirls keep divisional bye hopes alive with split

Cowgirl sophomore Ashlie Larson goes up against Billings Central’s Melissa Koerber for a basket in their game on Saturday night. The Cowgirls won the game 55-47. (Star photo by Steve Allison)


It was an up-and-down weekend for the Custer County District High School Cowgirl basketball team.

Against the second-ranked Laurel Lady Locomotives, the Cowgirls let an early lead slip away and lost 67-52 on the road Friday night.

But they bounced back at home on Saturday night, beating fifth-ranked Billings Central 55-47 to keep their hopes alive for a first-round bye at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament. They are now 8-7 overall and 6-3 in the Eastern A. Central fell to 11-4 and 6-2. 

“This could come down to who gets the second seed,” Cowgirls Head Coach Jacqui Engstrom said after the Central game. “It was a big win for us to finish and keep our confidence up.”

After the weekend, Laurel (13-2, 7-1) essentially wrapped up the Eastern A title. Both Laurel and Central have conference games against Sidney and Glendive. The Cowgirls will need at least one loss from Central to get into the second seed.

On Friday night in Laurel, the Cowgirls jumped out to a 17-11 lead after the first quarter but were outscored in each of the final three. They led 26-25 at halftime but couldn’t overcome horrendous shooting in the second half.

After shooting 47 percent in the first half, the Cowgirls shot just 10 percent (3-30) from inside the three-point arc. They made more three-pointers (4) than two-pointers (3) in the second half.

Shaylee Singleton had a good night with 19 points, including 4-7 shooting from three-point range. Ashlie Larson had eight points and Beth Sutter grabbed nine rebounds.

On Saturday night, the Cowgirls again got off to an early lead, but this time they held that lead through the game.

“We’ve talked about it all season, closing in the fourth,” Engstrom said. “A lot of times we play well in the first half or play well in the second half, but it’s about putting it all together for four quarters. And tonight we did that, and came out on top.”

The Cowgirls took the lead immediately with a three-pointer from Tori Swope in the first minute. That sparked a 12-2 Cowgirl run to start the game, and the Cowgirls ended the first quarter with a 15-7 lead.

In the first quarter, the Cowgirls held Central to just one field goal.

The Cowgirls maintained at least a two-possession lead through most of the second quarter and led 23-16 with 3:51 to play in the half. 

Central then went on a 9-2 run to tie the score at 25, but Sutter hit a shot at the end of the half to give the Cowgirls a 27-25 lead at the break.

Once again, the Cowgirls came out hot to start the second half. They scored the first eight points of the half, six coming at the free-throw line, to push their lead back to 10.

Central steadily chipped away at the lead and tied the score at 38 with 28 seconds left in the quarter. Swope hit a free throw to give the Cowgirls a slight 39-38 edge going into the fourth. 

Central tied the game, for the third time, to start the fourth quarter, but from there it was all Cowgirls.

The Cowgirls went on an 11-2 run, highlighted by a Singleton three, then puched their lead to nine midway through the fourth. From there, they hit just enough free throws and their defense held.

The Cowgirls had their best defensive effort of the season, holding Central to just 22 percent shooting, and out-rebounded the Lady Rams 53-43.

Justyn Juhl had a big night for the Lady Rams with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but the Cowgirls held Allie Lucas to half of her season average with seven points.

Sutter and Ashlie Larson led a balanced Cowgirl attack with 13 points apiece. Sutter had a double-double, adding 11 rebounds. Larson was 9-15 from the free-throw line.

Singleton had 12 points and Swope added 10.

The Cowgirls will step out of Eastern A play this weekend. They will host Class AA Billings West on Friday night and will travel to Ashland to play Class B St. Labre.

JV Cowgirls swept

The Cowgirl JV team suffered a sweep on the weekend, losing to Laurel 45-27 on Friday night and 53-49 to Billings Central on Saturday. The losses dropped the Cowgirl JV to 9-5 on the season.

Against Laurel, the Cowgirls fell behind 16-5 after the first quarter, but rallied to tie the game at 23 going into halftime.

In the second half, the Cowgirls connected on just two field goals and were outscored 22-4.

Jaylen Henderson had 13 points to lead the Cowgirls. Tori Ogolin and Halie Warren each had five.

On Saturday night, the Cowgirls couldn’t stop a hot Billings Central team in the fourth quarter.

The Cowgirls led through the first three quarters, taking a 40-32 lead into the fourth. But Central outscored the Cowgirls 21-9 in the fourth.

Abbie Larson had a big night with 18 points to lead the Cowgirls. Warren had 12 points and Henderson added seven.

Frosh fall in Laurel

The Cowgirl freshmen couldn’t get much going offensively on Friday night, losing to Laurel 45-17.

The Cowgirls mustered just seven points in the first half and trailed 28-11 going into the fourth.

Ally Coleman and Mariah Beehler each had four points to lead the Cowgirls.

The Cowgirl frosh are in Billings tonight, along with the Cowboy frosh, to play Billings Central.


#2 Laurel 67, Miles City 52

Miles City 17 9 12 14 - 52

Laurel 11 14 21 21 - 67

Miles City (7-7, 5-3)- Tori Swope 1, Shaylee Singleton 19, Beth Sutter 4, Ashlie Larson 8, Kadie Heinle 6, Makena Ellingson 7, Amy Blaquiere 7.

#2 Laurel (13-2, 7-1)- Lexi Lewis 10, McKenzie Cotter 2, Allie McGrath 16, Leslie Gappa 7, Dalayna Christenson 4, Hailey Spitzer 2, Lexi Budge 3, Abbie Lohoff 23.

Miles City 55, #5 Central 47

Central 7 18 13 9 - 47

Miles City 15 12 12 16 - 55

Miles City (8-7, 6-3)- Tori Swope 10, Shaylee Singleton 12, Beth Sutter 13, Ashlie Larson 13, Kadie Heinle 3, Makena Ellingson 4.

#5 Billings Central (11-4, 6-2)- Allie Lucas 7, Mariah Wittman 2, Baylee Hadley 3, Erika Kuehn 7, Nat Ruegaegger 4, Justyn Juhl 21, Melissa Koerber 3.

Junior Varsity

Laurel 45, Miles City 27

Miles City 5 18 2 2 - 27

Laurel 16 7 10 12 - 45

Miles City (9-5)- Jaylen Henderson 13, Stevie Murphy 2, Tori Ogolin 5, Jenna Swope 2, Halie Warren 5.

Laurel- R. Jiminez 14, S. Deming 4, R. Clark 11, D. Beehler 7, Adri 1, Unknown 8.

Billings Central 53, Miles City 49

Central 11 12 9 21 - 53

Miles City 19 13 8 9 - 49

Miles City (9-6)- Abbie Larson 18, Jaylen Henderson 7, Emily Regan 2, Tori Ogolin 5, Baylie Rodenbaugh 2, Hadleigh Miller 3, Halie Warren 12.

Billings Central- B. Shirley 8, J. Arekkano 5, J. harrison 2, M. Lucas 4, S. Rockwell 7, C. Paharik 7, E. Hanser 6, J. Harderbrook 12, C. Gunderson 2.


Laurel 45, Miles City 17

MIles City 4 3 4 4 - 17

Laurel 10 8 10 17 - 45

Miles City (3-10)- Kylee Licht 3, Mariah Beehler 4, Ally Coleman 4, Madi Hill 2, Kyleigh Strub 2.

Laurel- A. Hoppel 3, M. Kroll 5, M. McFate 5, H. Maurer 14, A. Spears 14, D. Boehler 2.