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Box Elder star Lilly Gopher signs with Montana Western


March 25, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Box Elder senior Lilly Gopher just wrapped up a brilliant four-year career with the Bears by winning a second straight Class C state championship. Over the weekend, Gopher took the next step in her basketball career by signing an NAIA national letter of intent to play for the Montana Western Bulldogs, who just captured the NAIA women's national championship.

When it comes to local high school basketball players, few have had more storied careers than Lillian Gopher.

Gopher, who was a four-year varsity player for the Box Elder girls basketball team and helped the Bears win their second consecutive Class C state championship earlier this month, won't be done on the hardwood just yet, as she has signed an NAIA national letter of intent to play for the University of Montana Western last Friday.

It's fitting that Gopher will be going from one championship program in Box Elder to another with the Bulldogs, who just won the NAIA Division I national championship in Billings.

Gopher's incredible high school career, which included scoring more than 1,000 points and playing in three Class C state championship games, started with her coming off the bench as a freshman. During that season, she helped the Bears win the District 9C championship and also helped them reach the title game against Belt before finishing as the runner-up.

Gopher earned All-Conference honors in the 9C as a freshman but started developing into a true star during her sophomore season. After leading the Bears to another 9C championship, Gopher and the Bears fell short against Belt at divisionals.

Gopher still earned All-State honors that season and by the time her career was all said and done she would be a three-time All-State performer after being named All-State during her junior and senior seasons.

Playing college basketball was always a dream for Gopher, however, she realized another major goal when she and the Bears won the Class C state championship in 2018 and they were able to complete a repeat by defeating Roy-Winifred in Great Falls at the Four Seasons Arena a few weeks ago.

Now, Gopher will have the chance to pursue another goal and that's making it in the Frontier Conference as a college basketball player.

"I have had that dream since I was a little girl," Gopher said of playing college basketball back in 2018 to the Havre Daily News. "My grandparents always told me when I was a little girl when I was watching all of my family members and people that played. I watched them at divisionals and districts and I said I want to play on that court someday. My grandpa told me that someday I would and that I would do great things and me being a little girl, I didn't know it, but I have been going along trying to follow my dreams."

Gopher averaged over 16 points a game this past season for the Bears and was also the team's leader in assists. She will go to UM-Western to play for head coach Lindsay Woolley who has built the Bulldogs into a national power.

"We're excited to bring Lilly to campus next year," Woolley said in a press release announcing the signing. "She knows how to win, is extremely skilled with the ball in her hands and has good size for a guard. Lilly will fit great with the rest of this recruiting class."


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