Hot Springs girls No. 2 in 14C tourney

Feb. 14—With their regular season schedule behind them following their 60-39 road loss to the Charlo Lady Vikings Friday night, the Hot Springs girls basketball team can now turn their attention to this week's District 14C Conference tournament in Polson.

A 44-29 win Thursday night at Noxon and the loss in Charlo left the Lady Savage Heat with a 6-2 conference record, placing them second behind league regular season champion Charlo, which finished 8-0 for the 2023-24 campaign.

In the meantime, Hot Springs' boys dropped their final two regular season games, falling to Noxon 50-45 in a hard fought game Thursday in Noxon, then losing to third-seed Charlo 56-37.

The Savage Heat played both of those games without the services of 6-3 junior forward Nick McAllister, who has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since late last month.

The Lady Savage Heat opened their final week of regular season play by taking a big, 12-1 first quarter lead of Noxon, which could not score against the aggressive Hot Springs defense.

By halftime, the Lady Savage Heat had boosted their advantage to 27-6 as the front line of senior post Lauryn Aldridge, along with forwards Brooke Jackson and Erica Cannon controlled the boards on both ends of the court.

Noxon managed to fight back in the third quarter, outscoring the visitors 8-7, shaving one point off the Lady Heat lead. The Lady Devils kept attacking and trimmed another five points off the Hot Springs lead in the fourth quarter, but the early deficit was too great to overcome.

The Thursday win lifted Hot Springs to 6-1 in league play on the year and 8-5 overall with just their game at Charlo left on their schedule. Noxon, meanwhile, fell to 1-6 in 14C play and 1-10 overall with the loss.

Aldridge led all scorers in the game with 16 points, while teammate Kara Christensen, a sophomore guard, chipped in 13 for the Lady Heat.

Eighth-grader Jasmin Risch, part of a talented group of Noxon underclassmen, led the Devils with nine, while junior Seanna Richter added seven.

Friday evening the Lady Heat traveled to Charlo where the Vikings bounced out to a 12-5 lead after the first quarter of play, then grew the lead to 30-12 by the end of the first half.

Charlo kept up the pressure in the early moments of the third quarter, adding three hard-fought points to their lead, 47-26, heading into the final quarter of play in what was a tense game between the top two teams in the 14C.

Hot Springs fought Charlo to a 13-13 standstill in the fourth quarter but could not overcome the early Lady Viking advantage.

Aldridge was once again the game's leading scorer with 16 points, while sophomore point guard contributed eight points to the Lady Heat effort.

Sheadon Kain had 15 points to lead Charlo.

The Savage Heat boys took on Noxon Thursday night with McAllister watching from the sidelines as the Red Devils controlled the rebounding battle with their version of the twin towers, 6-3 junior Shane Murray and 6-4 senior Aiden Currie leading the way.

Hot Springs, behind the shooting and scrappy play of junior Weston Slonaker, fought back in the second quarter, outscoring the home team 10-8 as the first half ended with Noxon holding a narrow 21-18 lead.

Junior forward Ricky Williams caught fire in the second half, helping Noxon begin to pull away to a 37-25 lead after three quarters of play. Hot Springs rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring Noxon 20-13, but the Red Devils were able to hold on for a grueling 50-45 win that boosted their record to 5-6 in league play and 5-8 overall on the year.

Murray led Noxon with points, while teammate Justice Kayser scored 14.

Slonaker led all scorers with 18 points for the Savage Heat, who also got 10 points from senior guard Michael Merrinan.

As was the case with the Lady Heat, the Hot Springs boys ran into a charged up Charlo team the following night (Friday). The Vikings utilized their tall front line of 6-7 Hayden Smith, 6-6 Wesley Anderson and 6-5 Titan Inman to set the tone early and establish an 18-7 lead after one quarter of play.

Senior guard Hayden Hollow, who led all scorers with 25 points, darted in and out of the Savage Heat defense and was a disruptive force for Charlo on defense, helping the home team build a 31-14 halftime lead.

Charlo added seven more points to their intermission break advantage in the third quarter to establish a 45-21 lead with one quarter to go.

Hot Springs outscored Charlo 16-11 in the fourth quarter, but could not catch up to the Vikings, who improved their 14C mark to 7-3 and their overall record to 11-7 with the win.

Hot Springs was led by senior forward Quincy Styles-Depoe, who poured in 16 points for the Savage Heat. Freshman Ben Aldridge added 10 for Hot Springs, which closed out its regular season with a 2-9 league record and a 4-12 overall mark.

The Heat, as the conference number five seed, will likely face Two Eagle River (7-3 in 14C games) in the first round of the District tournament beginning Friday in Polson. Charlo appears to be matched with Noxon in one of the other first round games.

In the 14C girls bracket, Two Eagle River plays Noxon in Polson this Thursday at 12:30 p.m. The winner of that game faces Charlo in a semifinal game Friday at 1:30 p.m

Charlo, Hot Springs and St. Regis all receive a first round bye on Thursday, they St. Regis and Hot Springs play in the second semifinal Friday at 3:15 p.m. Winners of those two semifinals meet Saturday at 4:30 for the 14C championship.

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