Lady Rams end up “unforgettable”

Photo by Callie Allen The Red Lodge team celebrates defeating Ronan.

A new chapter has been ushered in by the Red Lodge Lady Rams as they finished 4th at the State B basketball finals in Billings last week. The last time the girls’ team appeared at State was in 1973 and they fell to all three opponents.

“The girls peaked at the right time, playing with a lot of toughness and resiliency, and got things done with their backs against the wall. Between Districts, Divisionals and State we were 6-0 in elimination games,” said Coach Jason Reimer.

The Lady Rams started by knocking off undefeated Ronan 70-61, a defeat that sent shockwaves through the tournament and the State. “No one expected that,” said Reimer. “It was phenomenal, ending up winning two games at State.”

Their next opponents were Malta, one of the toughest sides to defeat and so it proved as Red Lodge went down 55-29. Malta defensive play prevented the Lady Rams from getting to double figures in each quarter. Natalie Hilderman was the team leader with 10 points, with Jillian LaValley and Taylor Hardiman on 6, Kylie Kelly 5, and Portia Cortner 2.  Into the loser out and up against Florence who were duly dispatched by Red Lodge 47-42, the Lady Rams edging them out in the final quarter. Hilderman had a game high of 16 with Zoe Cortner on 7, LaValley, Hardiman and Kelly on 6, P. Cortner 4, and McCall Allen 2.  Next up was a closer encounter with Three Forks for the 3rd place title. The Lady Rams fought hard for this by lost out by only 9 points after a slow start that saw them lose the first quarter 21-10. Never again did the Lady Rams give up a quarter but those early points did the damage.

Hilderman scored 26 points, with Kelly on 14, P. Cortner 6, Hardiman 3, LaValley 3, Zoe Cortner and Allen 2 each. 

Although out, this team finished higher in the rankings than any other girls’ basketball team in the history of Red Lodge High School and the platform to build on looks sturdy. The team has lost some seniors this year, but the buzz created in the younger grades to follow in these illustrious footsteps leaves no doubt in Reimer’s mind that recruiting will be easy.

“Hopefully a ripple effect,” he said.

There is still “a lot of talent left in the program” Reimer said, with 6 juniors, and a few sophomores ready to step up.

“These girls with their success in volleyball and basketball, are arguably one of the more successful B teams in the state this year. We didn’t see a lot of teams from volleyball qualifying for basketball. To have them be successful in both, is rare,” said Reimer.

Reimer talked of a map he pasted to a beam in the school gym that “only the girls know about.”

“It’s a map of Montana and it said start unknown and finish unforgettable, as no one expected too much. By the time they got to State and finished 4th they certainly finished unforgettable,” said Reimer.