It didn’t count on the scoreboard, but Ellie Stevens’ halfcourt heave was perhaps among the most important shots of Wednesday night’s game for Glacier.
The Wolfpack offense had been stuck in the muck before Stevens’ fired a desperation shot at the third-quarter buzzer that was waved off by officials, who ruled she traveled before releasing the shot. Bozeman’s press gave Glacier fits early, and the hosts allowed a number of easy opportunities under the basket to slip away.
But after Stevens’ shot from beyond midcourt dropped, things changed in the fourth quarter of a 47-45 victory for Glacier over the Hawks. Stevens’ shot may not have counted, but the many that followed it surely did.
“Those are exciting,” Glacier coach Bill Sullivan said of Stevens’ shot, which brought the crowd to its feet. “Those things are kind of good. They kind of relax them a little bit.”
Glacier looked plenty relaxed in the fourth quarter, dropping 16 points as it held on against the visiting Hawks, who threatened to run away from the start when they jumped out to an early 7-1 lead behind a ferocious press defense.
“Sometimes you just have to settle down,” Sullivan said. “I felt we certainly should have been able to break (the press), but there’s times when girls get into situations and whether they panic or they throw it to the wrong person, they’ve just got to be relaxed and poised and be able to handle that. Down the stretch, I thought they did.”
But even after surviving its early jitters, the Wolfpack was far from out of the woods.
Bozeman held a seven-point lead until late in the third quarter. Then Stevens’ momentum-shifting non-basket and a challenge from the head coach helped turn the tide of the game.
“I said, ‘Hey, we’re down by a few. We need at least three stops,’” Sullivan said.
Glacier got those stops, scored buckets on the other end and quickly turned a 36-29 deficit into a 40-36 lead.
The victory moved Glacier to 4-0 on the young season entering the holiday break. Three of those wins have come against Class AA teams.
“It’s great to be 4-0,” Sullivan said. “They certainly have confidence. We’ve been in a couple of tight ones where we’ve had to pull them out in the fourth quarter. This one, we had to go the entire distance.
“We’ll get better, and hopefully we’re in a good place down the stretch.”
Bozeman 8 15 13 9 — 45
Glacier 9 12 10 16 — 47
BOZEMAN: Ayla Embry 4 1-3 9, Sophia Robinson 2 6-9 10, Ashlyn Lewis 3 1-3 9, Alex Carey 6 1-2 15, Ava Westphal 1 0-0 2.
GLACIER: Ellie Stevens 2 2-4 6, Kali Gulick 3 2-3 8, Cadie Williams 1 1-2 3, Bria Anderson 1 0-0 2, Aubrie Rademacher 1 0-0 3, Anna Schrade 7 1-4 15, Alivia Atlee 3 3-4 10.