George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
Northern C girls basketball fans are going to get what they've been waiting for tonight at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. A long-awaited rematch between the No. 1 Highwood Mountaineers and the defending divisional champion Big Sandy Pioneers. On Thursday night, both of the topseeded teams advanced to the Northern C championship game with semifinal victories in Great Falls. The trip was not an easy one for 9C champion Big Sandy (22-1), which had to stave off a tough Moore-Judith Gap team 49-45. Never-the-less, the Pioneers are headed back to tonight's championship game where they'll face Highwood (22-0) at 8:30 p.m. in the title game. Both Big Sandy and Highwood are also now locked into next week's Class C state tournament. In Thursday night's semifinal, the Pioneers were clinging to a 17-16 lead over the Bulldogs at intermission. And they increased that lead in the third period before the Bulldogs came storming back midway through the fourth quarter. But Big Sandy's Devin Lackner proved to be the difference as she drilled a late 3-pointer and made a pair of clutch free throws to help the Pioneers advance to the title game for the third straight season. Senior Laci Keller had her second straight big game for the Pioneers, scoring a game-high 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Kourtney Danreuther added nine points for the Pioneers and Josi Herron chipped in with seven. The Bulldogs (16-6) got 13 points apiece from Julie Wichman and Jackie Walter in the loss. In the other semifinal game, Highwood downed Winifred-Roy 49-35 setting up tonight's dream finale. The North Star Knights made sure both 9C teams were still alive for state tournament berths on Thursday. In a morning loser-out game, North Star took care of Dutton-Brady 56-45 to move into today's loser-out game against Moore-Judith Gap. The Knights played well early, jumping out to a 13-7 led, but were ahead of the Diamondbacks just 27-24 at halftime. However, the Knights went on an 18-7 run in the third quarter to open up some distance, and they cruised home in the fourth period to keep their season alive. North Star's Britnee Dyrland scored a game-high 17 points and she grabbed six rebounds in the win. The Knights (17-5) also got 10 points, including two three's form Bridjour Han, as well as eight points form Shelby Lipp. The Knights will face the Bulldogs this morning for a spot in tonight's consolation final. The winner of that game will take on either Belt or Winifred-Roy for the right to go to the state tournament tonight at 7.