No matter how they were sliced, the numbers looked impressive for the Faith girls’ basketball team in the final of the West River Invitational Saturday night.
The Longhorns ran by and around Oelrichs, winning with ease 66-24.
The pace favored Faith all night, both offensively when it tried to get out and run and defensively when it installed a full court press that forced 24 Oelrichs turnovers.
“We like an up-tempo ball game, we like pressure defense. We want to push the ball when we can and we have some girls who can finish at the rim,” Faith coach Bryan Carmichael said. “It brings us more energy if we jump into a pressure on defense, seems like the ball flows more on offense too.”
For Oelrichs, the loss may have been a painful one, but coach Dale Pine Jr. said there’s a lot of powerful lessons his young team can take away from its appearance in the title game.
“They’re experienced and you can tell they play a lot,” he said of Faith. “I think a game like this is good for the girls. This is a state tournament type team, so this is going to be the kind of pressure we’re going to face. I know it’s tough now, but I think it’s going to help us down the road.”
Eight turnovers in the first quarter dug a hole for the Tigers, as the Longhorns got out in front and built a 23-14 lead.
The Lady Tigers made it interesting throughout the first, cutting the lead to 17-12 with 2:33 to go, but Faith went on a 6-2 run to end the quarter.
The end of the first half was where Faith took over, as a full-court press proved to be too much for Oelrichs. The Lady Tigers scored only two points in the second and trailed 45-16 at the half.
The third quarter wasn’t much better, as Faith outscored Oelrichs 10-6 and led 55-22.
Kailyn Groves and Jayden Shoemaker led the way for Faith, with 15 and 13 points respectively. Sydnie Schauer and Mikenzy Miller kicked in 10 points apiece.
Ariana Titus and Natasha Swiftwater led Oelrichs with eight points each.
Shoemaker said she thinks this season has the potential to be special.
“We’ve been with each other since fourth grade, so we’re really used to each other,” she said. “It feels great. We’ve been dreaming of this season for awhile.”
Her coach was inclined to agree.
“They come to practice everyday wanting to get better,” Carmichael said. “They want us to push them, they don’t want to take the easy route, and they get along so well. It’s special, there’s no doubt about it. What we’ve done so far has been a lot of fun, but we’ve got higher goals yet.”
Faith (11-0) plays in the Little Moreau Conference tournament Thursday while the Oelrichs (5-4) visits Rapid City Christian Tuesday.
The Oelrichs boys, who weren’t in attendance for the West River tourney, will travel with the girls to Rapid City Tuesday.
The Tiger boys visited Custer Saturday where they suffered their third loss of the season after being defeated by the Wildcats 72-46.
Later this week both the boys and girls will be back home hosting New Underwood Thursday, then Crazy Horse on Saturday.