By George Ferguson
After defying many peoples expectations this season, the Box Elder girls basketball team's postseason run finally came to an end.
After finishing second in the Northern C Divisional, the Bears fell to the Belt Huskies, 61-39, on Monday night in Lewistown in a Northern C challenge game.
The Huskies (24-2) will join the Big Sandy Pioneers at this weekend's Class C state tournament at the Butte Civic Center.
The Bears, who had handed the Huskies one of their two losses on the season, started the contest off strong, jumping out to an early lead.
Belt rallied to tie the score at 6-6 in the first quarter, then subsequently pulled away with some early scoring by Laura Keaster. The Huskies went on a 10-0 run late in the first quarter and withstood a 7-0 run by the Bears in the second quarter to open up a 10 point lead of 28-18 at halftime.
Box Elder opened the third quarter outscoring Belt, 7-0, sparked by a three-pointer from senior Tami Infante. That run cut the Huskie lead to four points with a couple of minutes left in the quarter.
Despite Box Elder's third-quarter surge, the Huskies were not going to be denied a trip to the state tournament. Belt scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter en route to a 14-3 run to seal the win. The Huskies outscored Box Elder, 23-6, in the fourth quarter as the Bears could not find any offense in the fourth period.
Belt got a solid night from Keaster, who scored a game-high 23 points. Hallie McCafferty added 12 points and Megan Gondiero chipped in with 10 for the Huskies. Box Elder was paced by Infante's 15 points while Natasha Wolfchild added nine in the losing effort.
The loss ends the Bears season with a 17-8 record. The Huskies will move on to Butte, where they will join Northern C champion Big Sandy and open state tournament play on Thursday at the Butte Civic Center. Belt will face Culbertson in the first round while Big Sandy will match up with Circle.