Panther

Bailey Christensen bolted up the court. Belgrade head coach Sarah Fowler teaches her players to look up the court and make the correct pass in hopes of transition points, and that materialized.

In the second half, Hazel Eaton made a precise pass over a Fergus defender to Christensen, who displayed focus as she caught the ball and converted the fast break into a bucket despite that defender fouling her on the shot.

Christensen missed the free throw. That was one of a couple times that Belgrade made a shot despite a foul but missed out on a three-point play after missing the free throw. Fowler was happy to take the points though.

“That’s a big one. Otherwise, we don’t get those points so good job of finishing,” Fowler said. “We’ll take the two (points) instead of one I guess, but it would’ve been nice to have three.”

As standout Gabby Weber again exited a game due to a calf cramp, this time in the first quarter, the Panthers were forced to turn to other players once again. And Fowler was happy with their performance too. Belgrade held off a fourth-quarter Fergus surge and held onto a 45-37 win on Dec. 21 at the Belgrade Special Event Center.

“It wasn’t pretty, I will be honest,” Fowler said. “We worked really hard to get a wins and had some kids who came through.”

Christensen led the Panthers in Weber’s absence with a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds. Taylor Christensen and Meghan McGinley each added nine points, a season-high for Taylor.

The Panthers usually have taken some time to grow accustomed to playing without Weber, Fowler said, but tonight seemed different. Although Weber scored six points in the first quarter alone, Fowler felt the panthers didn’t miss a beat without her.

“Late in the game, I felt like tonight they were on their best,” Fowler said. “It’ll take some time to get used to that, but tonight, I felt like there was not let down. They knew they had to step up, and they did.”

Belgrade (4-3, 1-1) limited Fergus to six points in the first quarter and took a 22-16 lead at halftime. However, Anna Zimmer scored nine of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter to slightly close the gap, but the Panthers held on.

“We got up quite a bit in the third and let them come back,” Fowler said. “(Zimmer) did a good job for them. She’s just a strong post player.”

Weber’s been dealing with calf cramps since Belgrade’s contest against Havre. She didn’t practice leading up to the Fergus game but felt good enough in warmups to play early.

Fowler said the holiday break comes at a good time for her and the rest of the Panthers considering five of Belgrade’s contributors also played in the state volleyball tournament and had just a few days to rest before basketball practices started.

“It’s  nice for them to have a good break,” Fowler said. “They haven’t had much time to recover. That’s exactly what I told them was to relax, have some good food and come back rejuenated.”

Especially without Weber, Fowler believes Belgrade still has potential to reach. That’s encouraging to her.

“It’s great to know we didn’t play our best,” Fowler said. “We can build on that and play well and also build some confidence after the break.”

Belgrade returns to action Friday hosting Park County in another Central A conference game.

Fergus boys’ height leads to win over Belgrade

As he was game planning, Mike Deming knew Tanner Trafton would make a considerable difference for Fergus. But Deming, Belgrade’s head coach, said he had a tough time rooting against a future Bobcat.

Trafton, a Montana State football commit, led Fergus to a 40-31 win over Belgrade on Dec. 21 in the Belgrade Special Event Center.

“They’re very good, and I thought Tanner Trafton was a real force on the offensive rebounds and putbacks. He played really well. It was a very good basketball game for two teams playing each other, and both teams competed all the way to the end, but I thought the difference was the interior post play,” Deming said. “He’s a very good basketball player, and he showed why he’s one of the best athletes in the state.”

Trafton led the Golden Eagles with a team-high 11 points.

Deming said the Panthers followed the game plan well and were up to the challenge against not only Trafton but Jaden Graham, who tallied nine points. They just couldn’t contest Fergus’ height.

However, Deming did like how the Panthers played selflessly.

“You could tell they were playing for each other and with smiles on their faces,” Deming said. “We want to tak it serious, but at the same time, I want them to have fun, and I thought my guys displayed that tonight.”

Belgrade did not score in the first quarter and tailed 11-0 going into the second. Easton Page helped rally the team in prior to halftime by scoring 10 of his game-high 12 points in the second quarter to trim the deficit to 17-16.

The Panthers (1-6, 0-2) were within a possession early in the fourth quarter when Fergus pulled back the reins offensively and ran a stall that chewed more than five minutes of the clock. A couple of baskets, as well as a some key free throws, allowed Fergus to hang on.

Jake Klonsinski and Noel Reynolds combined for 16 points for Belgrade, and allof of Klonsinski’s points came from beyond the arc.

After the holiday break, Deming said his team will work on scenarios and aspects of the game that will allow them to play better in the second half. However, Deming generally liked the energy his team displayed.

“At the end of the day, if your team does what you ask them to do, you’re pretty proud as a coach,” Deming said. “The only thing that would’ve been better is if we could’ve made a 3 down the stretch to tie it up and maybe win the game.”

Belgrade returns to action Friday hosting Park County in another Central A conference game.

Note: Belgrade News sports editor Dan Chesnet contributed to this story.

Girls

Belgrade 45, Fergus 37

Fergus                          6  10   8  14  -  37

Belgrade                     13  9  12  11  -  45

FERGUS (1-5) - Emily Kolstad 1 0-0 2, Macy Mangold 0 0-0 0, Taylin Trafton 1 1-2 3, Kacee Gordon 2 3-4 7, Libby Jenness 0 0-0 0, Kayla Nelson 1 0-1 2, Steohanie Olson 1 0-0 3, Anna Zimmer 7 1-2 16, Kylie Zimmer 1 2-2 4. Totals: 14 7-11 37.

BELGRADE(4-3) - Taylor Christensen 3 1-2 9, Vada Barkell 0 0-0 0, Meghan McGinley 4 0-0 9, Hazel Eaton 0 4-6 4, Gabby Weber 3 0-0 6, Bailey Christensen 5 3-6 13, Sophia Flikkema 0 0-0 0, Gracey Carter 1 0-0 2, McKenna Carlson 1 0-1 2, Cheyann Tooman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 8-15 45.

3-point goals: Fer 2 (Olson 1, A. Zimmer 1), Bel 3 (T. Christensen 2, McGinley 1).

Boys

Fergus 40, Belgrade 31

Fergus                          11  6   15  8  -  40

Belgrade                       0  16  12  3  -  31

FERGUS (6-1) - Tanner Trafton 5 1-2 11, Nate Kindzerski 1 0-0 3, Jake Clinton 1 0-1 2, Wes Jameson 3 2-2 9, Gage Clinton 0 0-0 0, Jayce Phillips 3 0-1 6, Jaden Graham 3 2-3 9. Totals: 16 5-9 40.

BELGRADE (1-6) - Tate Bowler 1 0-1 2, Jake Klonsinski 3 0-0 9, Easton Page 5 1-3 12, Cooper VanLuchene 0 1-2 1, Riley Burman 0 0-0 0, Noel Reynolds 3 1-3 7. Totals: 12 3-9 31.

3-point goals: Fer 3 (Kindzerski 1, Jameson 1, Graham 1), Bel 4 (Klonsinski 3, Page 1).