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Season-long dream upset by Nighthawks

Lady Pirates finish State B with third-place trophy


March 12, 2020

-EW photo by Charlotte Baker

The Pomeroy High School Lady Pirates brought home a third-place trophy from the State Tournament in Spokane last week, their hopes of making a third consecutive appearance in the championship game derailed by an upset loss to league rivals Oakesdale on Friday. The Lady Pirates, coached by Head Coach Tai Bye, at left, finished with a 23-2 overall record. In helping the Lady Pirates to the third-place trophy, Maddy Dixon (30), shown here being double teamed by Oakesdale, culminated her high-school basketball career with 64 points and 29 rebounds over the three-day tournament.

SPOKANE–The Lady Pirates defeated Mount Vernon Christian 48-26 in the consolation round to bring home a bittersweet third-place trophy and cap a stellar year that didn't end as planned but was filled with accomplishments and success.

In the semifinal game here Friday, the number three Oakesdale Lady Nighthawks pulled off an upset win, sending the Lady Pirates to the consolation bracket. Pomeroy advanced out of the quarter finals with a 41-26 win over Curlew.

Pomeroy finished the season 23-2, counting losses only to Southeast 1B rival Oakesdale, which finished second in the championship game to Inchelium 46-34.

At the Hardwood Classic, all three games were taut, low-scoring defensive standoffs as the Lady Pirates' vaunted defense held Mt. Vernon Christian and opening-game opponent Curlew to 26 points, and Oakesdale to just 37.

The win over the Mt. Vernon Christian Hurricanes hinged on two things: a better job scoring by the Lady Pirates than the night before, and keeping the ball out of MVC high-scoring point guard Josie Droog's hands.

Maddy Dixon scored a game-high 22 points, reefed down 13 rebounds, made three steals and again sparked the team on the floor.

Sophomore Keely Maves also made a big contribution, scoring 10 and playing a crucial role inside, both offensively and defensively.

"They did a lot of good things tonight," Head Coach Tai Bye said. "They moved the ball well, we rebounded well, we shot a little bit better, but played loose tonight, played relaxed. Which, it's hard because you always play the 'what-could've-happened game,' but I'm proud of what they've done, and they get to bring home another trophy."

Bye credited Sydney Watko for sticking to the Hurricane's senior point guard Josie Droog, who averaged 14.8 points per game this season. She was held to 11 points and the defense forced a couple shot-clock violation turnovers.

"We knew we had to keep them stopped on defense," commented senior post Maddy Dixon, "and keep attacking, and last night we didn't get our shots to fall very well, and that was kind of a goal.

"We did a little bit better today," Dixon said. "Not all of them fell, but that happens, and we got some shots to fall, and just kept going at them the whole game and never let up."

The first quarter was tight and close, with Pomeroy finishing ahead 11-10. The Lady Pirates controlled the tip but both teams exchanged possessions for a minute and a half until Dixon's two free throws kicked off scoring. Sophia Wood hit a pair of gifters to knot it 2-2, but Dixon scored next, and Kailey Faber tied it again with a bucket, 4-4.

Alyssa Wolf gave a three pointer a try, missed, but Maves snagged the rebound and tried to put it back, got fouled, and hit both shots for a 6-4 lead.

On the other end, Maves fouled Wood, who split the pair at the line: score 6-5.

Dixon took a feed from Sydney Watko, made her spin move and scored. Hurricane Faber drove the baseline for an 8-7 score.

Wolf swished a three to make it 11-7, but MVC's Josie Droog hit one, too, ending the first quarter, 11-10.

The Lady Pirates took command in the second quarter, outscoring MVC 11-6 for a slim six-point lead at the break.

Maves popped in a basket, and was fouled by Abby Russell. The and-one caromed out but a minute later, Dixon scored, got fouled, and added the gifter: 16-10.

The six-point lead melted with a J. Droog trey, but Dixon grew it back to five points with a key drive, pull-up and spin move for an 18-13 Pirate lead.

The rest of the quarter both teams struggled to score. Maya Kowatsch hit one of two free throws and three minutes later, Dixon took her spin move inside again for a bucket and a 21-14 lead. Heidi Heytvelt was fouled by Kylee Russell, shooting a double bonus, but hitting only one.

Mt. Vernon's J. Droog scored to end the half, Pomeroy leading 22-16.

The Lady Pirates vaulted off the slight lead built in the first half with a 13-point run in the third quarter, all while holding the Hurricanes to zero, except for two J. Droog free throws at :41.

The third quarter started with Dixon puting back a Heytvelt miss, then Sydney Watko sank a pair of free throws after two minutes of back-and-forth possessions.

Dixon drove the baseline then dished to Maves for two.

The defense held MVC without shooting, getting the ball on the shot-clock violation.

Sydney Watko drove the key and banked one in off the glass, then Emma Severs zeroed in and knocked down a three for a 33-16 lead.

Wolf lofted a three, it missed, but Maves grabbed the rebound and put it back with a minute remaining: 35-16. Josie Droog was fouled by Maves, and she hit both gifters, ending the third with Pomeroy leading 35-18.

The fourth quarter was another string of Lady Pirate buckets as the Pomeroy defense put question of the game's outcome to rest.

The Hurricanes threw on a press, but crisp passing moved the ball into scoring position with McKenzie Watko feeding an assist to Dixon for two points.

MVC's Emma Droog hit a pair of free throws on a Wolf foul, but that was it for MVC scoring for the next four minutes. Dixon lined up and lofted a three which bounced up off the rim, lazily looped over to the other side of the rim, went up juuuuust enough and dropped straight down through the hoop.

Next time up the floor, Heytvelt pushed a pass into Maves who shot and missed, rebounded the miss and put it up for two.

Pomeroy again held the 'Canes and Heytvelt took a clearing on the baseline in and put up one of her trademark soft, one-handed push jump shots, knees curled under, and a 44-20 lead.

Severs attacked the key, put up a shot, missed and put back the rebound to end a 9-0 run.

MVC's Wood scored two free throws, but Dixon took her spin move inside again with about a minute and a half remaining.

After that, Bye subbed her bench in to finish the game and MVC scored two buckets in the last minute or so.

Pomeroy 48, Mt. Vernon Christian 26

Pom 11 11 13 13-48

MVC 10 6 2 8-26

Pomeroy (48) Alyssa Wolf 3, Heidi Heytvelt 3, Sydney Watko 4, Maddy Dixon 22, Keely Maves 10, Emma Severs 5, Maya Kowatsch 1. Free throws: 9/12-75%. FG(2): 18/57-32%. FG(3): 3/14-21%.

Mt. Vernon Christian (26) Kailey Faber 6, Josie Droog 11, Sophia Wood 5, Emma Droog 2, Hannah Van Hofweg 2. Free throws: 10/13-77%. FG(2): 7/31-22%. FG(3): 2/15-13%.


Offensive Rebounds-Pomeroy: Heytvelt, S. Watko 5, Dixon 8, Maves 4, Severs, Kowatsch 2. MVC: J. Droog, Wood 4, K. Russell, E. Droog, A. Russell.

Defensive Rebounds -Pomeroy: Wolf, Heytvelt 2, M. Watko 2, S. Watko 3, Dixon 5, Herres, Severs, Kowatsch 2. MVC: Faber, J. Droog 4, Wood 2, K. Russell 2, E. Droog, Vanderkooy, A. Russell 2, Devlieger 2.

Total Rebounds: Pomeroy 42. MVC 26.

Assists: Pomeroy: M. Watko 2, S. Watko 2, Dixon 2, Maves. MVC: E. Droog 2.

Turnovers: Pomeroy: S. Watko 3, Dixon 4, Maves, Severs. Total: 9. MVC: Faber 2, J. Droog 5, Wood, K. Russell 2, E. Droog, Van Hofweg, A. Russell 2, Devlieger. Total: 17.

Blocked shots: Pomeroy: Wolf, Heytvelt, Dixon. Total 3. MVC: J. Droog, Wood. Total: 2.

Steals: Pomeroy: Heytvelt, M. Watko, S. Watko 3, Dixon 3, Severs 1. Total: 9. MVC: J. Droog, K. Russell, Van Hofweg. Total: 3.

Oakesdale upset knocks Lady Pirates out of title game

The Lady Pirates' hopes for a third consecutive championship game appearance were dashed by league rival Oakesdale, managing a squeaky-tight 37-34 upset of top-ranked Pomeroy at the 2020 Hardwood Classic here Friday.

Oakesdale double-teamed Maddy Dixon, holding her to 16 points, still the game's high scorer, but the Lady Pirates' shots were just a tetch off the entire game, and the aggressive Lady Nighthawks managed to stay just an inch ahead, even to the last. Dixon finished with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.

"When you can't finish shots, you can't win a game," said Head Coach Tai Bye after the difficult defeat.

"I mean, I've got the best defensive team in the state, I absolutely do," she said, "because nobody's scored over 45 points on us the entire year. Teams that score seventy or eighty points score 35 on us.

"Defense can only take you so far," Bye said. "I'm a believer in defense. That's what I teach my girls. It's what's important to us, but when you can't finish a shot, you can't win a game.

"It's not one person's fault," she added. "It didn't come down to one play. It doesn't come down to missed free throws. It's a collective loss."

Dixon dished an assist to Keely Maves for a bucket at 1:05 to play, pulling the Lady Pirates within one point, 35-34. The Lady Pirates got the ball back when Lizzy Perry's desperation shot clanked as the shot clock expired with :32 to play.

Pomeroy took two time outs to plan its final strategy, but the shot missed and Dixon, Sydney Watko and a couple Lady Nighthawks got tangled up for a jump ball on the rebound, with the arrow in Oakesdale's direction.

Pomeroy got the ball back, but Sydney Watko's twisting jumper in the key banged away, and Perry was fouled on the rebound. She made both of the one-and-one with 5.5 seconds to play, giving the Lady Nighthawks its 37-34 lead-and the game's final score.

Inbounding the ball, Heidi Heytvelt hucked the ball to Sydney Watko at half court, and Watko was fouled, landing hard on the maple.

She missed the front end of the one-and-one and again four rebounders came down with the pumpkin, this time the jump ball going to the Lady Pirates, with a scant 3.3 seconds to play.

Bye called a time out, diagrammed the last play, and the ball was inbounded, fired around the horn to Emma Severs, whose deep baseline three ball from the left side missed at the buzzer.

Oakesdale stayed a point ahead of the Lady Pirates each quarter, winning the first quarter 8-7, the second quarter 6-5 and the third 13-12. Those three points were the difference in the game as both teams scored 10 in the final stanza.

Keely Maves provided an effective counterpoint for Dixon, whose hands were full with two defenders on her. Maves came off the bench and took open shots, sometimes getting fouled, and going to the free throw line, as happened in the first quarter.

In the third period, Maves put up a bucket on an inbounds play and she got a couple more free throw tries in the fourth-plus two crucial baskets. At 2:38 in the fourth, Maves stepped to the line for two foul shots, missed both, but rebounded the second miss and put it back for two. She snagged six rebounds and made two steals.

Coach Bye acknowledges Saturday's game will be difficult. "But, I talked to my girls a lot about basketball's not just basketball; it's about life and sometimes in life you lose by three points," Bye said. "It is what it is. You pick your head up and you move on, And you go play for a different trophy.

"We talked about your season, and who you are, and what you're capable of isn't defined by a scoreboard," Bye said of the post-game talk in the lockerroom. "Never has been; never will be. These girls know defeat; they know loss, but our journey has been something that Pomeroy Girls' Basketball has never done. Ever. In 100 years. And that's something that they can never take away from us."

Oakesdale 37, Pomeroy 34

Pom 7 5 12 10-34

Oak 8 6 13 10-37

Pomeroy (34) Heidi Heytvelt 2, McKenzie Watko 3, Sydney Watko 4, Maddy Dixon 16, Keely Maves 9. Free throws: 12/19-63%. FG(2): 10/41-24%. FG(3): 2/15-13%.

Oakesdale (37) Jessie Reed 11, Lizzy Perry 14, Bree Rawls 6, Louellen Reed 2, Kaylee Hinnenkamp 4. Free throws: 15/16-94%. FG(2): 11/36-30%. FG(3): 0/7-0%.

Dixon wins battle of big forwards in Curlew win

It was the battle of the big forwards and Lady Pirate Maddy Dixon showed the Curlew Lady Cougars how badly she and her teammates wanted to make this appearance at the 1B State Tournament one to remember as Pomeroy opened the 2020 tournament Thursday, Mar. 5, with a 41-26 win.

The team advances in the winner's bracket to face Southeast 1B rivals Oakesdale in the semifinals. The Lady Nighthawks defeated Neah Bay 58-49.

Dixon almost single handedly carried the team to an 18-8 half-time lead and continued to play a big role in the team's offense in the second half, finishing the game with a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.

Curlew's 6-1 senior post Korin Baker came into the game averaging 22.3 points per game and 13 rebounds per game, but buckled under Pomeroy's tenacious defense. Baker fouled out with five minutes to play, finishing with 13 points while only three other teammates scored for the Lady Cougars.

Dixon had a good game to start the tournament off-at last. "For me, we've been here two years in a row and I was excited," the 6-1 senior post remarked. "I haven't had the best 'first day at state.' One year I was sick, one year I had an allergic reaction. So I was like 'I've got to get through this game.' And I was excited and we did."

Dixon also energized the crowd by hitting a pair of three pointers in the first quarter.

Pomeroy's game plan worked, Dixon said. "We kind of assumed that we're going to be playing Curlew," Dixon said, "so our posts have been doing a lot of post work and practicing stopping her on defense, first of all, so that she couldn't score, and working on getting around her long arms to draw the foul and to make the basket first."

The game plan looked like it worked. Baker scored most of her 13 points in the first half, heading to the bench at the 4:20 mark in the third quarter, with four fouls. When she got back in the game late at the five-minute mark with her team trailing 30-17, she promptly fouled Sydney Watko and was out.

"We watched a little film and we knew where she wanted to cut and so my job was to pressure her and try to keep her out of the key as much as possible," Dixon said of Baker. "Because when she does get in there, she's good and she can go up short."

Curlew's other scoring threats, Claire La Due, and Lady Cougar guards Hannah McIrvin and Olivia Kjolseth, were effectively neutralized by aggressive Lady Pirate defense.

Curlew's Claire La Due was another threat the Lady Pirates were aware of and planned for, Dixon said. "Sydney [Watko] did a good job of stepping up and taking her and when Baker wasn't in, then I was able to take her," Dixon said. "And our guards did a really good job of pressuring their guards so that helped us out a lot there."

The Lady Cougars won the opening jump, but couldn't convert and both teams traded unproductive possessions for the first two minutes before Heidi Heytvelt broke the ice with a bucket.

Curlew's Korin Baker followed but then Dixon answered with a three pointer. K. Baker answered, and, after a free throw by Heytvelt, K. Baker hit another bucket to make it 7-6.

Dixon set the Pirates on course with another energizing three pointer, and finished more baskets, part of a 9-2 run to finish the first quarter ahead, 14-8.

The second quarter was a marked defensive battle as Dixon counted two baskets, at 6:00 and 3:37, while the Lady Cougars struggled but went scoreless, ending the first half with the Lady Pirates ahead 18-8.

Curlew opened the third quarter with a rally. K. Baker hit a pair of free throws. McIrvin made two of her own and K. Baker swished a trey at the six-minute mark pull the Lady Cougars within three, 18-15.

Dixon rolled up her sleeves and chipped in a pair of free throws on K. Baker's second third foul at 5:08, sending the Lady Cougar post to the bench. Dixon, put in another bucket and Heytvelt scored to give Pomeroy more breathing room, 24-15.

Curlew's Emma Lena Baker, a 5-7 eighth grader, popped in a bucket, then Dixon and Watko responded with baskets to finish three quarters with Pomeroy leading 28-17.

The intensity remained for the first two quarters of the fourth stanza-the Lady Pirates wary that Curlew could explode at any minute with a barrage of buckets to make it a contest. Dixon calmed those fears with a basket at 6:02. Curlew's E. Baker scored and Macy Singer sank two gifters, but then it was the end game-three minutes and less-and the Lady Cougars resorted to fouling to derail Lady Pirate possessions.

Dixon, Heytvelt and Emma Severs methodically hit free throw after free throw down the stretch to the 41-26 ending buzzer.

Pomeroy 41, Curlew 26

Pom 14 4 10 13-41

Cur 8 0 9 9-26

Pomeroy (41) Heidi Heytvelt 7, Sydney Watko 2, Maddy Dixon 26, Emma Severs 6. Free throws: 15/18-83%. FG(2): 12/43-28%. FG(3): 2/18-11%.

-EW photo by Charlotte Baker

Heidi Heytvelt (4) was one of Pomeroy's "mane" ball handlers, effective bringing the ball up court against harassing pressure from the Mt. Vernon Christian Lady Hurricanes.

Total Rebounds: Pomeroy (32): Wolf, Heytvelt 4, M. Watko 3, S. Watko 10, Dixon 8, Maves, Severs 3. Curlew (40): Kjolseth, K. Baker 8, McIrvin 8, E. Baker 3, La Due 8, Singer 5, Beedle 2, Thomas 1.

Assists: Pomeroy (5): Wolf, Heytvelt 2, S. Watko 2. Curlew (3): E. Baker 2, La Due.

Blocked shots: Pomeroy (4): M. Watko, S. Watko 2, Severs. Curlew (3): K. Baker 2, E. Baker.

Steals: Pomeroy (11): Wolf 2, Heytvelt 4, M. Watko, Dixon, Maves 2, Severs. Curlew (4): Beedle 4.

Turnovers: Pomeroy (9): Wolf, Heytvelt 4, S. Watko 2, Severs. Curlew (19): Kjolseth 3, K. Baker 2, McIrvin, E. Baker 6, La Due 2, Singer, Beedle 3.

Offensive Rebounds: Heytvelt, M. Watko, S. Watko, Dixon 3, Severs 2. Curlew: K. Baker 2, McIrvin, E. Baker 2, La Due 6, Singer 2, Beedle.

Defensive Rebounds: Pomeroy: Wolf, Heytvelt 3, M. Watko 2, S. Watko 9, Dixon 5, Maves, Severs. Curlew: Kjolseth, K. Baker 6, McIrvin 7, E. Baker 1, La Due 2, Singer 3, Beedle, Thomas.


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