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Magical Bears: Box Elder girls turn back Knights for 9C title


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When it comes district championships it's normally the older, more experienced team coming away with the title. But this year that wasn't the case in girl's 9C action. Saturday night the Box Elder Bears defeated the North Star Knights 53-35 at the Havre High gymnasium, earning a long-awaited 9C championship. The Bears haven't won the District 9C tournament since 1998, and to break the 12-year drought it took a total team effort. "It feels really good," Box Elder junior Rylin Burns said. "Without our freshmen we wouldn't have been able to do it. I feel really happy, I am just really excited, and to be a part of this team is really exciting. "It is really exciting," Box Elder freshman Brandi Buffalo added. "Sometimes we play as a team and sometimes we don't, but tonight we were able to get it done." Burns played nearly 32 minutes before fouling out, finishing the contest with 11 points and six rebounds. Buffalo's time was limited, but came into the game late in the first half and knocked down five points in the last 1:30 to give the Bears a 29-27 lead at the half. "It's not always the person who scores the most," Box Elder Head coach Shiloh Seymour said. "It's the extra role players who do it for you. And I think that's what was key for us." Before Buffalo gave the Bears a boost to regain the lead in the second quarter, the Bears jumped out to a 13- 11 lead after the first quarter. But it was the third quarter that did it in the Knights, as they finished second for a second year in a row. "They (Bears) came out and made more plays than we did," North Star head coach Brian Campell said. "We didn't come in thinking we wanted to be No. 2. There might be some consolation as we get ready for divisionals, but for now it was a tough loss." In the third quarter the Bears put up 10 points, all the while holding the Knights to just two. The Knights also had 10 turnovers in the third quarter, struggling to break the Bears' full-court pressure. "We struggled with their pressure," Campbell said. "We turned the ball over more than you can afford to do in a game like this. We wanted to play at a slower pace, but as they got ahead more we had to change our pace and had a tough time transitioning." After the third quarter the Bears led 39-29, and in another dominant quarter, the Bears outscored the Knights 14-6 in the final frame. The Bears are a smaller team overall, and rely on their speed and ability to push the ball up the floor. And even though they didn't have the size to match the Knights' Brittnee Dyrland and Shelby Lipp, they were able to relatively stop their production. Lipp did finish with 16 points, but in the fourth quarter Dyland and Lipp combined for only nine points. "We knew we had to execute not only on offense but defense too," Seymour said. "We broke down the game film, and we knew what each girl was going to do." Dyrland finished with five points, while Sarah Helmbrecht, Jordan Spicher and Kali Twedt all finished with four apiece. And as a team the Knights shot just over 20 percent from the field, and 0-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc. Dyrland also led with 17 rebounds. For the Bears it was Aricka Wolf Chief who led the way with 16 points. Kaycee Henry added 10 points, and Crystal Stamper added seven for the Bears. It was a total team effort, and the Bears were able to get the job done. The offense shot over 30 percent from the field and over 35 percent from three. And the defense forced the Knights into 20 turnovers on their way to the title. "It's the goal when you start the season," Seymour said. "But to actually accomplishment it is pretty cool." Next up for both the Bears and Knights will be Northern C first-round games on Thursday in Great Falls. As the 9C champ, the Bears will 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and the Knights will play at 4 p.m. Both 9C teams will match up with the top two teams from District 10C in the first round of the divisional tournament.


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