Prather, Emter lead girls past Joliet 64-45

Sydney Prather and Madilyn Emter helped the Herders exercise demons from a week prior in their 64-45 win against Joliet on Feb. 2.

Prather went for 20 points — nine of which came in the fourth quarter alone — and Emter drained four 3-pointers for 16 total in a contest that started fast, hiccuped a bit before polishing off the J-Hawks (6-10) in the final stanza. 

A week ago, the Herders (5-11, 3-6 District 5B) dropped 21 points on rival Columbus in the first quarter before holding on to a nine-point lead at the break. Eventually, the Cougars would outlast the Herders in a come-from-behind win and send the Herders back west with a loss. 

For Emter, she noticed a stark difference between their loss and victorious outcome last weekend.

“We kept our focus a little better,” Emter said. “We definitely learned against Columbus, we have a habit of coming out really strong and then not finishing the last quarter or so. We really stressed composure and keeping up our intensity the entire game.”

PHOTO: Take a look through some of the best photos from the Herders' win against the J-Hawks

It was a similar start that saw the Herders up 38-15 after the first quarter. Prather had 11 first-half points and a barrage of 3-pointers from Emter, Prather, Elle Terland and Lauren Niebur helped extend the lead to nearly 30 points. 

But the third quarter again lacked precision, as Emter went for three more 3s and 11 points total, only to be accompanied by Hailee Brandon’s lone basket of the period for Herder scoring. 

“This was our first game [of two in two days],” said SGHS head coach Kim Finn. “In our first game, we always play really hard like this. And then our second game comes around, and we don’t play full out. It was just a matter of this being our first game and having enough in us to finish. 

The Herders went on to lose their second game of the weekend, a 48-36 decision to Jefferson. The loss locked up third place in the district for the Panthers (10-6, 6-3 District 5B), which hands the Herders the fourth-place seed in the upcoming district tournament. They’ll see either Manhattan or Whitehall in the first round of the double-elimination bracket next week. Finn said a win on the road would’ve left the third-place slot a little more open, but the confidence factor is what she was mainly looking for. 

“Especially for my girls, it’s about confidence; knowing they can play like they played today,” Finn said. “It’s just more of a confidence-building kind of game, if we know we can beat them.”

At the beginning of the year, the girls’ basketball team refused to chuck this season up as a ‘rebuilding year,’ noting the fact it lost it’s leading scorer to graduation, and had to flip the offense over to find points. And early in the season, the search was fruitless. 

But as the year has chugged along, games have gotten closer, losses still hard to swallow, but identity ever-forming. In her senior-year campaign, Emter said her teammates have grown into their own roles they were merely trying to understand what they were just months ago. Soon, they’ll be on the collision course for district tournament wins. 

“We’ve definitely learned to work together,” Emter said. “We’ve come up with a couple different press breakers that would help different situations. That really helps. We’re reading each others’ minds and knowing where the pass is going to be. 

“As the season goes on, we’re only getting more comfortable with each other. We’ve had to work inside-outside, whereas last year we just had the inside, so we could get the ball to Mesa [King]. We’ve just had to be a little more diverse in our shot-taking.” 

The Herders have one final district shot to take against Manhattan (2-14, 1-8 District 5B) on Feb. 8, tipping off at 7:30 p.m. on the road. SGHS comes back home for its final home game of the year with Park High visiting Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. 

PHOTO CAPTION: Madilyn Emter cuts through the lane during the first half of the game against Joliet on Feb. 2 in Big Timber. Emter finished with 16 points and four 3-pointers in the win. (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer)

By STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Pioneer editor

 

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