Fourth time’s a charm?
Less than a week after meeting in the last of three regular season matchups, the No. 5-seeded Carroll College Saints and the No. 4-seeded Montana Tech Orediggers are pitted to do battle in the Frontier Playoffs.
“I don’t think that at this point you’re able to change much,” Saints coach Rachelle Sayers said. “We have to be better at the things we do. I think obviously our strength is in the paint. We’ve always been a good defensive and rebounding team. I don’t think we were particularly good in either of those areas at Tech. We held them to 58 points and to most people that seems like a good job.”
The Orediggers secured the fourth seed and the right to host a playoff game by defeating the Saints Thursday, 58-50. The win gave the Orediggers a 2-1 edge over the Saints in the regular season, and a 9-9 conference record compared to Carroll’s 8-10.
In Butte last week, it was the combined efforts of Callee Remsen, Martha Dembek and Hattie Thatcher that sunk the Saints. The trio combined for 35 points. When the Saints defeated the Orediggers 65-50 in Helena, only one Oredigger, Dembek (10), scored in double figures.
Tech’s earlier win this season came on the back of Dembek, who was honored prior to the game for recording her 1,000th point. In that game, Dembek scored 20 points as the Orediggers controlled Carroll from the jump.
Tuesday will be a new game, and even higher stakes.
The Saints enter the playoffs on a three-game losing streak, but showed flashes of solid play against No. 4 Lewis-Clark State College to close out the season. If the Saints can drum up those same rhythms, the Saints would surely have a chance to beat the Orediggers.
“Really, the difference was the free-throw line,” Sayers said of losing to LCSC in the regular season finale. “We didn’t get there as much as we needed. Overall, I was happy with the effort. I felt like we made some huge strides. Like I said, there’s not a lot that we change. We have to be more focused on the style that we play. We can’t get into a running game with them.”
Tech is led by Dembek’s 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The second and third leading scorer for the Orediggers are Hattie Thatcher with 11.3 points and Monica Landdeck with 10.1.
“We have to be better at the things we do,” Sayers said. “We know who we are as a team. We’ve worked all year to get to this point. Our kids know what to do.”
The Saints opted to spend a night in Coeur d’Alene as they traveled back from Lewiston on Sunday. The Saints went through a walk-through and reviewed film before continuing the journey to Helena. Monday, the Saints watched more film and used about an hour of practice to stay fresh for Tech.
Sayers final message to her team: “It’s been the same the last two days: 'Do what we do to the best of your ability. That will be good enough.' Sometimes, they try too hard to be good. And try to do too much. They’re great players. They don’t have to do more than what they already do.”
The Saints tip off against Montana Tech at 7 p.m. in Butte.