With only two weeks left of the regular season, the Lady Dragons had a big week of conference games that will be a deciding factor in their post-season tournament play. At home they went up against the Soda Springs Cardinals Wednesday, January 11 and then on the road to okay West Side High school Friday, January 13.
There’s no denying that their first game against the Idaho’s State 2A second ranked Cardinals was going to be a challenge. Despite the hardship the Soda Springs girls basketball team has been facing over the last year, their team is as good as ever. The MHS girls basketball team knew Soda Springs would be a difficult team to play with their fast paced game, solid defense and strong offense and Wednesday’s game only proved how right they were. The Lady Dragons stuck to their game, as challenging as it was, but in the end, fell to the Cardinals, 19-57.
Commenting on the game, Coach Trevor Jones said, “Hats off to Soda. They have a great team and program. They are the team everyone is chasing this year. And it’s good for the girls to see that caliber of teams out there so we have something to keep reaching for.”
As the Lady Dragons traveled to West Side to play against the Pirates for their second conference matchup, they were ready to shake off the hard loss earlier that week. Recalling their previous game against the Pirates, the Lady Dragons played a close game all four quarters and managed to pull out the win just as the game wound down. Their second bout with the Pirates was anything but the same.
Malad won the tip off, attacking the basket from the start but West Side brought an aggressive defense that harassed the ball just as they crossed the half court, making it difficult for the offense to settle into a rhythm. The Lady Dragons patiently worked the ball around, finding chances for a shot, but unfortunately the ball just wouldn’t fall. As the clock neared five minutes left in the first quarter, a West Side defender over anticipated the pass Riglee Peterson threw to Oaklie Hebdon. Hebdon took a few short dribbles to the outside, drawing the defense to her and then quickly passed back to the open Peterson to finally put points on the scoreboard for Malad. West Side wouldn’t answer with their own scoring for another two minutes.
Although the scoring was slow to begin, the Lady Dragons finally found that sweet spot as the first quarter began winding down. Passing the ball around the perimeter, Malad patiently wore the Pirate defense down. Izzy Haycock had the ball at the top of the arc and passed the ball beyond the defender to connect with Hedbon just outside the arc. Shooting just after catching the ball, Hebdon nailed the three point shot. On the next Dragon possession, the Haycock-Hebdon pair did again, this time from the deep corner for another three points. The duo had one more in them before the quarter ended, this time with the assist from Hebdon and Haycock hitting the three.
The Lady Dragons kept the momentum rolling as they stepped back on the court for the second quarter. Sheridan Brown got the ball from Hebdon near the block and took a single dribble to the basket before laying it up off the glass to bank it in for Malad. Hallie Horlsey hit the jump shot after popping out just beyond the key for Brynnlee Jones to connect with. Haycock kept the ball in play for the Dragons when she struggled the loose ball away from the Pirate defense after a long bounce off the rim. She then found an open Jones who passed in on down to Hebdon in the corner for another three point shot.
Malad was on fire and not about to be slowed down. Jones added another shot from behind the arc, followed by Hebdon’s fourth of the night and another by Haycock. Horsley added four more points, bringing the final score of the half, MHS 34- WSHS16.
West Side came out in the third quarter desperate to stop the Malad run. They stepped up their defense in a big way, keeping Malad to only four points for the quarter. The Pirates stepped up their offense as well, bringing their score up by 12, ending the third quarter with Malad 38, West Side 28.
The two teams continued to battle it out on the court through the fourth quarter. Neither team was letting up, forcing quick shots and turnovers, but also making crucial free throws and converting on fast breaks. The Lady Dragons managed to keep their lead over the Pirates, never letting them narrow the gap more than 10 points, winning with the score 50-40.
“Basketball can be a roller coaster and this week was that for sure!” share Coach Jones. “We learned a tough lesson Wednesday but I’m so proud of how our girls responded- to step up and overcome adversity two days later.
“We came out firing and the result was pretty entertaining! We hit nine 3-pointers and went on a 32-12 run before halftime. Those moments are pretty special,” continued Coach Jones. “It’s amazing to see them accomplish what you know they are capable of. That was a huge win to put us in a favorable spot for one of the top two seeds for the district tournament.”