Twice in the first half, Bozeman took a modest-sized lead against Gallatin. And twice the Raptors narrowed the margin.
The Hawks pieced together an 8-0 run at the start of the third quarter, though, to go ahead by 11. That proved to be too much ground for their rivals to make up.
Bozeman (1-6, 1-2 Eastern AA) earned its first win of the season Friday 59-42 at Gallatin High. In doing so, they tallied the first win of head coach Kati Mobley’s tenure leading her alma mater and kept Gallatin winless (0-7, 0-3).
“I think this is a really good chance for us to see what we can actually do,” Mobley said. “They’ve definitely grown as a team, they’re starting to pick up some things. It’s a reward to show our hard work is paying off.”
After Gallatin’s Makinlee Naffzinger hit a jumper to open the second half and trim Bozeman’s lead to 27-24, Bozeman embarked on its most important run of the game. Avery Burkhart recorded two buckets, Nicole D’Agostino hit a jumper and Tailyn Black added a pair of foul shots for a 35-24 edge. Over the rest of the period, the Hawks outscored the Raptors 8-4, a total consisting of two more Burkhart buckets, a D’Agostino layup and a jumper from Megan Schell. The lead was 43-29 through three quarters.
“We knew they weren’t going to roll over,” Burkhart said. “We needed to come out strong in the third quarter, and I think we did a really good job of that. We stayed composed and did what we needed to do.”
The Hawks maintained that pace in the fourth quarter, where their lead swelled to 19 at its highest point.
“I think we’re better than what we’ve shown,” Mobley said of the team’s season, “but tonight they showed up and they were ready to go.”
In the first half, though, Gallatin managed to stay relatively close. Bozeman opened a 9-1 lead, but the Raptors tied the game at 11 by the end of the first quarter. Two buckets apiece from Keaton Lynn and Aspen Evenson helped that first comeback.
In the second quarter, the Hawks pushed their lead out to 18-11 thanks to two Burkhart scores and a 3-pointer from Black. Five different players contributed to a 7-2 Gallatin run that brought the Raptors to within 20-18.
Bozeman would lead 27-22 at halftime, however.
“We hit some shots (in the first half),” Raptors head coach Wes Holmquist said. “In the second half we didn’t shoot the ball very well. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole.”
Burkhart finished with 16 points for Bozeman, and Black hit a trio of 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 17 points. D’Agostino scored 12, while Clara Fox and Allie Megargel each added four.
Burkhart, at 6-foot-1, was particularly difficult for Gallatin to contend with. Once the Raptors got behind, their defense started to scramble a little bit more, Holmquist said. And if the team doesn’t rotate appropriately, open shots become available down low. And it’s tougher to respond when the team can’t answer on its own offensive end.
“If we don’t score consistently, we can’t keep up,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep grinding and find another way to get the ball in the hole.”
Freshman Emma Hardman led the Raptors with 10 points off the bench. She hit three field goals and went 4 of 6 from the foul line.
“She’s really starting to come into her own a little bit,” Holmquist said. “I like the way she’s playing right now. Offensively, she can bring something to the table that we don’t have. She’s starting to get a little more comfortable.”
Avery Walker contributed eight points for Gallatin, and Evenson added seven.