HELENA — Carroll College women’s basketball coach Rachelle Sayers has been part of plenty postseason tournaments.
During her eight seasons with the Saints, her teams have reached the finals of the Frontier Conference Tournament twice and even won it last season.
No matter where they end up, the Saints have prepared the same way as always. It’s having the mindset of a one-game season.
“It is what it is,” Sayers said. “If you win, you continue to play, if you lose you are done. We are not thinking about going to the national tournament. We are thinking about here in the present.”
Two seasons ago, Carroll was in a situation where it had to win one of its last three games to make the NAIA National Tournament and it dropped all three.
Sayers uses that as a learning experience, where one game can make the difference.
Sophomore guard Christine Denny didn’t have to relive the disappointment from the 2016 season. She played in her first ever Frontier Conference Tournament last year, where the Saints ultimately cut down the nets and punched their ticket to the NAIA National Tournament.
But she doesn’t take that for granted. Even with all the success she saw as a freshman, she knows she can’t take this tournament lightly.
Carroll faces Rocky Mountain College in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on Friday night at home. This is the same team that beat the Saints back on Jan. 17.
“We don’t get to play another game if we don’t win the next one (against Rocky),” Denny said.
Rocky Mountain features one of the bigger lineups among Frontier Conference teams, including 6-foot forwards Markaela Francis and Justyn Juhl to complement 5-foot-7 point guard Kloie Thacher.
“Their entire starting lineup is bigger than ours at every single position,” Sayers said. “They are really going to pound it inside, attack the boards and attack the paint. We are going to have to pick up the pace a little bit and get a lot of ball movement and player movement.”
Carroll’s speed threat comes in the form of sophomore Jaidyn Lyman.
Although she only stands at 5-foot-3, she has had success against the Battlin’ Bears this season, scoring 14 points in Billings during the first meeting on Jan. 3 and then 16 points this past week.
“It’s been a lot of draw and kicks,” Sayers said. “A lot of the time the ball is going into Hannah (Dean) and they come over to double, so our shooters need to be ready to knock down shots.”
Role players such as Lyman have been a crucial all season, but with Dean sitting out of practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle she suffered Tuesday against Montana Tech, they will be needed more than ever.
Sayers said Dean is day-to-day and there will be a game-time decision if she plays.
Of course Rocky Mountain is also dealing with an injury after senior Alecia Chamberlin left early in the fourth quarter with a right foot injury. She was set to have X-rays taken on Wednesday.