Haerling, Warriors back in step; Point guard
returns after four-game absence, helps women douse Lights 91-71
By DOUG BAUER
of the Tribune
The past two weeks have most likely been the toughest of Nikki
Haerling's young life.
But the Lewis-Clark State junior guard showed no visible effects
Thursday night, scoring 10 points and doling out eight assists in the
Warriors' 91-71 Frontier Conference women's college basketball victory
over Montana State-Northern at the L-C Activity Center.
Haerling left the team prior to its Jan. 29 home date with Montana
Tech after learning that her family had been involved in an automobile
collision en route to the game. Her grandfather and sister were killed
in the accident, and her mother, father and grandmother sustained
Haerling, who rejoined the Warriors on Monday, appeared in her
customary starting spot at point guard. She received a loud ovation upon
scoring her first bucket on a zone-penetrating drive just over a minute
into the game, then added a long 3-pointer later in the half to
temporarily quell an MSU-Northern charge.
Afterward, L-C coach Brian Orr said he wondered whether he should
have called a play for Haerling so early in the contest. But she put
those questions to rest with her initial move to the hoop.
"I thought it kind of loosened us up," said Orr, whose club remained
unbeaten on its new court and improves to 19-8 overall and 8-3 in FC
"Nikki coming back this week was a big lift for us," he added. "No
question about it."
L-C, which zoomed ahead 24-12 to start the game, watched its lead
shrivel to just two points before pulling ahead 40-36 at the half.
MSU-Northern continued to keep things close over the first few
minutes of the second half before L-C reeled off a 21-4 run that
consumed nearly six minutes and left the visitors from Havre trailing
68-47 with 11:06 remaining.
Much of the damage was inflicted by Warrior frontliners Kendra West
and Ashley Baker, who accounted for 12 points during that span.
Baker tacked on another 10 points down the stretch, helping L-C stem
the Skylights' rally bid. She finished with a game-high nine rebounds
and matched West's 19-point scoring effort.
West, L-C's lone senior, grabbed only three rebounds. But that was
enough to make her the program's all-time leader in that category,
giving her 716 for her career. Former Warriors Amanda Campbell (1995-99)
and Rosie Albert ('94-98) had shared the previous mark of 715.
But West said she wasn't focused on personal accomplishments leading
up to, during, or after the game.
"So much has happened the last couple of weeks that I haven't thought
about it at all," she said, alluding to Haerling's situation.
It's that kind of unselfish nature that has been an overriding factor
in West's success at the collegiate level, according to Orr.
"I don't know if you can really put (West's accomplishments) on
paper. I just don't know if stats are going to do it," Orr said,
referring to West's leadership role. "She's helped us so much off the
floor as well."
L-C also received a 14-point contribution from Jade Fulbright, and
the Warriors converted nearly 52 percent (33 of 64) of their field goal
attempts, including a 56.7-percent showing (17-for-30) in the second
MSU-Northern outshot L-C in the opening half, hitting on 14 of 27
attempts (51.9 percent). But the Skylights went cold after that, going
just 8-for-32 (25 percent) over the game's final 20 minutes.
NOTES -- Haerling declined comment after the game. ... Gate receipts
from Thursday's matchup will be donated to a relief fund to help cover
her family's medical expenses, and a silent auction was held to benefit
MSU-NORTHERN (21-9, 7-5)
VanDyke 2-5 0-1 4, Valgardson 4-10 11-12 19, Reome 3-9 3-3 11, Heny
6-14 3-5 15, Gardner 0-4 0-0 0, Riener 0-1 0-0 0, Pullin 4-8 2-2 12,
Johnston 2-3 4-4 8, Heggem 0-4 0-0 0, Trulock 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-59
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (19-8, 8-3)
Kalbfleisch 3-8 0-0 8, K. West 8-10 1-2 19, Baker 7-11 5-8 19,
Haerling 2-8 5-6 10, Fulbright 5-7 3-4 14, Hart 0-2 0-0 0, Wittmer 0-1
0-0 0, Yancheva 3-7 0-0 9, Boggs 0-0 0-0 0, V. West 2-4 2-2 6, Jackson
1-1 0-0 2, McCauley 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 33-64 16-22 91.
Halftime score -- Lewis-Clark State 40, MSU-Northern 36. Three-point
goals -- MSU-N 4-23 (Reome 2-7, Heny 0-5, Gardner 0-3, Pullin 2-5,
Heggem 0-3), L-C 9-17 (Kalbfleisch 2-5, West 2-3, Haerling 1-1,
Fulbright 1-1, Yancheva 3-6, West 0-1). Rebounds -- MSU-N 38 (Valgardson
8, Johnston 8), L-C 34 (Baker 9). Assists -- MSU-N 11 (Gardner 3), L-C
22 (Haerling 8). Total fouls -- MSU-N 22, L-C 20. Fouled out -- Heny.
Technical fouls -- none.
Bauer may be contacted at email@example.com