Basketball on basketball court stockimage

MISSOULA — Returning to Dahlberg Arena as a coach has always conjured good memories for former University of Montana basketball star Jordan Hasquet. 

Some of those memories, though, haven't aged as well as others. Hasquet's team is quick to remind him.

"We always make fun of him because he has like a sweat band in his hair," Stevensville captain Megan Pendergast said, alluding to the Griz team posters from Hasquet's class that are almost a decade old.

Pendergast & Co. were only kidding, but they made up for their chiding with a 47-29 win against Libby Saturday on the second day of the annual Western A Tip-Off Tournament at the University of Montana. Pendergast finished with a game-high 15 points and Hasquet — in his second trip back to coach at the arena he once called home as a player — earned Stevi's first win of the season.

Chalk up another fond memory for the Grizzly turned Yellowjacket.

***

It really started getting good for Stevensville just before halftime. 

With 2:20 remaining before the break, sophomore Evynne Alexander made a strong post move to the hoop and scored to give Stevi a 16-10 advantage. On the next possession, and with the Yellowjackets in a full-court press, Pendergast stole the ball. The all-state soccer player raced to the other end and finished the play she started to make it 18-10.

"Their half-court zone defense was pretty good. Against their press, we turned it over a few times, but we got some good looks against it as well," Libby coach Wally Winslow said.

The Loggers were able to overcome the pressure defense on their next two possessions. McKenzie Proffitt scored on a post move then Khalyn Hageness, who finished with five points, added two in transition on the next possession. With one minute remaining to the break, the Loggers had pulled within four, 18-14.

But Stevi freshman Maddie Weber made it a seven point deficit, as she drilled a long-range and wide-open 3-pointer.

"Just building in the offseason was huge and we have a couple of newcomers that are definitely good little basketball players... We got some new young blood that's definitely playing well," Hasquet said, specifically pointing out Weber among the new faces.

Weber's basket — a part of the seven total points she scored (which all came in the first half) — gave the Yellowjackets a 21-14 lead. They never led by less than seven the rest of the way. Pendergast, Alexander and returning all-conference post Angel Richards made sure.

Alexander scored seven of her 11 points in the second half; Pendergast had 11 of her 15 and Richards scored six of her 10 in the fourth quarter alone. 

Richards performance was particularly impressive, as the junior jammed her finger on a steal attempt earlier in the game. She returned to action with her fingers in a make-shift brace made of athletic tape.

"Angel's always been a warrior," Hasquet said. "(Her fingers) were huge right (after the injury)."

The Loggers were a bit banged up, too. Jayden Winslow, an all-conference player last year in District 7-B before Libby's reclassification to Class A, was sidelined with an ankle injury. Her coach, and dad, expected her to be back before too long.

Which is good — conference play starts for both teams next week. Stevi has one more nonconference matchup against Columbia Falls on Thursday before hosting Butte Central Saturday. Libby travels to Ronan Saturday.

Kyle Houghtaling can be reached by email at kyle.houghtaling@missoulian.com or on Twitter @khotel.

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