Kusek column: Patience pays off for Hein, Forsyth girls

2014-03-11T21:00:00Z 2014-03-12T23:06:04Z Kusek column: Patience pays off for Hein, Forsyth girls The Billings Gazette

The quips can come any time and on any subject.

With self-deprecating humor and passing out credit like candy, Terri Hein is having fun this week.

She can’t stop smiling.

It’s good to be part of Forsyth girls basketball these days.

During a 20-minute visit, the head coach drops occasional remarks that will just make you chuckle. Here’s a small sampling:

On her legacy at Montana State Billings, where she was a hall of fame player for the women’s basketball program:

“I looked at the record book recently and saw that I was pretty much gone. I think I was in there for blocked shots and field goal percentage but not any more. But I’m still in there for academic all-conference.”

On the Class B state tournament bracket:

“As long as we’re on the opposite side of Fairfield.”

On the Dogies opening the state tournament against Malta, her high school alma mater:

“I know quite a few of the (Malta) parents. The mom of two of their players (Mercedes and Sophia Stiles) was the point guard when I was in high school. My folks still live in Malta. Nice people there, but I still want to beat them.”

After a rough start the first three years, “I’m sure a few parents wanted me gone,” she said, Forsyth is back at the state tournament for the first time since 2004.

“The kids have worked so hard,” said Hein. “I’m so excited for them.”

When Hein’s three children -- Laura, Carson and Lindsey -- were old enough, Hein decided to return to coaching.

She wasn’t laughing then.

Her first Dogie team went winless.

The second year, Forsyth won two games.

The third year, the Dogies won three.

But there was progress. The mercy rule -- a running clock after one team leads by 40 -- was being used less and less.

“I know it was really hard on the kids,” Hein said of the early years. “But I really enjoyed coaching them. There was progress. You could see them developing their skills.”

Hein found strength in a quote from Condoleeza Rice about successful leaders staying positive.

“It does test your confidence,” Hein admitted of the 5-55 start the first three seasons. “And as a head coach, it takes a little while to get your feet under you. You learn how to handle different situations.”

Plus, the coaches knew help was on the way.

Go to any small-town community wedding during the summer and the parents can tell you about the athletic skills of each grade.

Realizing what they had, the Forsyth parents helped give the players a nudge in the right direction.

“The parents have really, really been great,” said Hein, whose husband Scott runs the family ranch outside Ingomar. “A group of them took it upon themselves to get the girls to the tournaments during the summer. I don’t know how many Suburbans we wore out.

“And the girls put the time in at the gym. The group that came in, they did well in junior high and they expected to win.”

The Dogies were 9-11 two years ago and 20-6 last season, losing to Colstrip in overtime at the Southern B Divisional tournament on Saturday morning. Of their six losses, four were to the Fillies.

But with success, came a different set of problems. But good problems to have.

“I think there were high expectations,” said Hein of this season. “That’s been different for us. And the girls have responded to that.”

Forsyth punched its ticket to state with a 45-38 win over Red Lodge in last Friday’s semifinal at Rimrock Auto Arena. The Dogies trailed by five with five minutes remaining in the game before rallying.

“The players might have been a little tight at the start,” Hein said of the game. “But they just had that look on their faces that they were not going to lose.

“I love their tenacity. This is a hard-working group of players. They are fun to coach.

“I was so happy after the Red Lodge game. It was such an accomplishment.”

Forsyth followed with a 66-44 win over Shepherd for its first Southern B title in a decade.

Hein was quick to share the success with assistant coaches Tara Anderson and Steph Dana.

The Dogies have relied on balance and team work to ring up a 22-1 record.

Forsyth features four players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Kaylee Zard’s double-double of 16.9 points and 14 rebounds game. Ruby Kallenbach is adding 14.3 points, while RaeLynn Keefer is averaging 15 and Dalaney Purkett 10.1. Meranda Sargent is adding 7.2 points, while Forsyth is getting key minutes from Laura Hein, Kelsey Seleg and Allie Hert.

And for more than a few, it will be their second trip to Brick Breeden Field House in the calendar year.

Many of the same athletes were on the Forsyth volleyball team that finished second at the Class B state volleyball tournament. It was the volleyball program’s first state trophy.

“I think that will help,” said Hein. “The players have been in that building before and they understand the state tournament atmosphere.

“This group never gives up. They truly believe they are going to win.”

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