Lady Rams emulate 1972 team

Photo by Melissa Hartman The Red Lodge team with their 3rd place trophy.

After a wait of 44 years Red Lodge has a girls’ basketball team going to State. The team of 2017 secured the 3rd place berth after defeating St. Labrie 66-56 last Saturday and now face Ronan in their State B opener, March 9 at 1:30 p.m. at MetraPark.

The Lady Rams now match the achievement of the Lady Red Skins whose lone appearance was at the very first Montana State Girls’ Basketball tournament in 1972. Back then teams played all Classes in the tournament, so the Red Lodge team faced Townsend, Hysham and Hardin.

Although the ‘72 team lost all three games the team’s efforts were praised in the Carbon County News for bringing “local recognition that girls’ basketball is here to stay.”

“It wasn’t long ago that no one gave much of a hoot about girls’ basketball in Red Lodge, or anywhere else in the state. This is the first year, in fact, that girls’ tournaments have received recognition from the Montana High School Association,” the paper said.

The achievement even caught the eye of David Marinkovich, Principal of Custer County High School and organizer of the 1973 state tournament, who believed that by 1978 girls’ basketball would “be a really big statewide activity.” Fast forward to 2017 and the plethora of teams and tournaments across the state is stronger than ever.

Last Thursday’s opener for the Lady Rams saw them lose to Colstrip 55-45. Colstrip dominated in the all-important rebound stats but lost out with the free throws as the Lady Rams won that battle 66 percent to 56 percent. Where the cracks occurred were in the 3 point region with Red Lodge getting only a 6 percent success rate against Colstrip’s 72 percent.

Red Lodge’s Natalie Hilderman led offensively with 17 points with Zoe Cortner getting 9 points.

On Friday Red Lodge picked up an easy win against Roundup 61-35 who failed to put any stamp on this game. The Lady Rams had a 90 percent free throw success with 10 of 11, 60 percent of rebound possession and scored 5 of 15 3 pointers. Hilderman again led in the scoring with 17, with Cortner on 13, Jillian LaValley 11 and McCall Allen 6.

On Saturday Red Lodge faced St. Labrie in a loser out game and won 66-56. A dominant first half saw the Lady Rams through the remainder of the game as they scored off 5 of their 11 3 point tries and 13 of their 18 free throws. Hilderman scored 20 points with Taylor Hardiman on 15, LaValley 10, Portia Cortner 9, and Kylie Kelly 7.

The victory led them to Lame Deer and a well disciplined showing giving their opponents little to enjoy. The Lady Rams gave up only 5 free throws but secured 19 for themselves and also nullified Lame Deer in rebound play, 55 percent to 44 percent. Red Lodge were also strong in 3 pointers.

The Lady Rams did find themselves trailing but changed everything round by the second half as they came back to take the 3rd quarter 15-8 and the 4th quarter 19-8, outscoring their opponents 32-10 in the final 12 minutes.

Hilderman once more led the scoring with 18 points LaValley added and Cortner scored 12 each and Kylie Kelly had 10.

Red Lodge will play Ronan March 9 at 1:30 p.m. Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. They will then play either Malta or Three Forks March 10 at either 12 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.