By COLIN GAISER
The Daily Inter Lake
BIGFORK — A strong defensive effort propelled the Bigfork boys basketball team to a 56-23 Western B victory over Florence-Carlton on Saturday at Bigfork High School.
The Vikings (9-1 overall, 6-1 Western B) smothered the Falcons offense all night, holding them to just one field goal between the second and third quarters and single-digit scoring in all four quarters.
Bigfork coach Sam Tudor was thrilled with his team’s defensive display.
“I’m really happy with our defensive energy tonight, particularly our seniors. We had trouble finishing in transition, but the amount of energy we put forth on defense was pretty awesome,” he said.
Bigfork was not always efficient in its half-court offense, missing numerous open shots and going 16 of 32 from the free -throw line. But the Vikings forced steals all evening to earn easy fast-break buckets, particularly from Anders Epperly, who finished with 9 points.
“There were a lot of missed opportunities, but part of that was just because they were playing so hard,” he said.
Tudor called Epperly his “floor general” who helped get the team going on both ends of the floor.
Logan Gilliard led the Vikings in points with 11, and Luke Schmit came off the bench to score 10. Tudor said Schmit was starting to “find his own a little bit” after coming off some injuries from the football season.
Parker Hotsinpiller led the Falcons with 7 points, all of those coming in the fourth quarter.
Tudor said his team is starting to wake up after a period of complacency, which cost them at Deer Lodge on Jan. 5 in its lone defeat.
“This team is very seasoned. They’ve been playing together so long sometimes it feels like a long car ride with your brothers and it’s tough to get along,” Tudor said.
“But this was the first night I’ve seen them come together and look a little bit like their old selves from last year where it’s just hard defense, and it was really enjoyable for me to watch.”
Next up for the Vikings is a road game in Eureka next Thursday at 6 p.m.
Florence 6 7 1 9 — 23
Bigfork 16 18 10 12 — 56
FLORENCE – Jack Christofferson 2, JP Briney 1, Jacob Round 5, Blake Shoup 2, Colby Kohlman 1, Jake Scully 1, Beau Neal 4, Parker Hotsinpiller 7.
BIGFORK – Anders Epperly 9, Clayton Reichenbach 8, Colton Reichenbach 5, Luke Schmit 10, Randy Stultz 9, Wyatt Reichenbach 1, Logan Gilliard 11, Colt Thorness 3.
BIGFORK — A rough second quarter doomed the Valkyries as they fell to Florence-Carlton in Western B action.
Bigfork (4-6, 3-4) kept things competitive early, forcing turnovers and containing the Falcons’ speedy guards. But Florence ended the second quarter on a 14-1 run to go into the half with a comfortable 28-11 lead, as Bigfork started to give the ball away to the Falcons for easy transition baskets.
“Their transition killed us, We just couldn’t get down the floor fast enough,” Bigfork coach Jami Grende said.
Florence kick-started its run with a highlight-reel play, as Danielle Zahn threw a no-look, behind-the-back pass on a fast break to Rilee Mangun waiting under the hoop.
“They’re a great team. We kind of had a game plan, but it was kind of tough to stick with it,” Grende said.
The Valkyries started the second half on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 10. But the Falcons found their rhythm again and took a 36-21 lead into the fourth quarter before cruising to the win.
“We put our press on, and we got some turnovers from that,” Grende said.
“I have to give our team credit, they never give up.”
Heidi Schneller and Emma Barreth paced Bigfork with 8 apiece, but no one else scored more than 5 for the Valkyries.
Grende acknowledged that scoring has become an issue for her team,
“We’re struggling offensively right now, and we need to polish [that up] for the second round [of conference play] because we’re not looking good,” she said,
Bigfork will be in Eureka on Thursday for 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Florence 11 17 8 14 — 50
Bigfork 7 4 10 14 — 35
FLORENCE – Brooklyn Newbary 4, Emma Stensrud 8, Joey Janetski 7, Rilee Mangun 14, Mackenna Liles 7, Danielle Zahn 10.
BIGFORK – Merideth Bedford 3, Emma Berreth 8, Heidi Schneller 8, Jordan Nelson 1, Ansleigh Edgerton 5, Quinn Nissen 4, Izzy Santistevan 4, Ashton McAnally 1.