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The Bears are Back

Box Elder girls roar back to finish third in the 9C, return to Great Falls


Last updated 2/22/2021 at 8:07am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Box Elder's Brielle Sunchild, left, brings the ball up during Saturday's District 9C girls consolation game at the Havre High gymnasium. Box Elder rolled past Turner to place third and earn a spot in this week's Northern C Divisional Tournament in Great Falls.

They may have been eliminated from competing for the championship in the District 9C Girls Basketball Tournament, but Box Elder and Turner still had a chance for a bid to the divisional tournament as they played in the tournament's consolation game. And Box Elder took advantage of the opportunity as they won, 51-34, at Havre High School Gymnasium on Saturday morning.

Kyla Momberg had a dominant performance, accounting for over half of the Bears' total points with 28 on 9-for-17 shooting from the floor and 10-for-15 shooting from the free-throw line.

"She demands a lot of attention. She's smart with the ball," said Box Elder head coach Jerome Gopher. "She can drive, kick, and we just always tell the girls to be ready to catch and shoot."

Momberg came out of the gate hot for the Bears, outscoring Turner by herself 7-2 in the game's first three minutes. She finished the opening quarter with 15 points as the Bears led 20-6 heading into the second quarter.

"We were all aggressive, it was high energy," Momberg said. "We weren't going home, we're not done yet."

The Tornadoes put up more of a fight in the second quarter as they outscored the Bears in that frame. However, it was not enough to make a huge dent in the deficit as Box Elder maintained a 31-21 lead at halftime. The Bears played their best defense in the third quarter, limiting the Tornadoes to four points. Turner played a little better in the final quarter, but the Bears' defense prevented them from ever going on a run to make it a game.

The Bears' main focus on defense coming into the game was Turner star player Shyan Krass.

"Krass is a tough basketball player," Gopher said. "We just tell (our players) that everytime she gets the ball, we've got to double team her, make the rest of their team make shots."

The Bears' game plan worked as Krass led the Tornadoes with 13 points but shot 6-for-20 from the field on 30 percent shooting. Only one other player on Turner scored more than five points as they shot 25.5 percent from the field and went 0-for-12 from the 3-point line.

"Lady Bear basketball is defense. It all starts there," Gopher said. "That's where we get all our shots from."

As the No. 4 seed, Box Elder opened up tournament play on Tuesday night with a 92-52 victory over Hays-Lodge Pole. On Thursday, the Bears lost, 58-33, to No. 1 seed Fort Benton, which eliminated them from competing for the tournament championship. The Bears turned around and defeated Chinook, 65-42, to make the consolation game.

No. 2 seed Turner opened the tournament Tuesday with a 71-31 win over Chester-Joplin-Inverness before losing, 40-37, to North Star in the semifinal Thursday. Then Friday, Turner's opponent, Hays-Lodge Pole, forfeited the game because of COVID-19 issues, which sent the Tornadoes straight to the consolation game. Not only did the loss deny them a bid to the divisional tournament, but it snapped a streak of three straight years where Turner finished in the tournament's top three.

With the win, the Bears will play later this week in the Northern C Divisional Girls Basketball Tournament in Great Falls. It's the first time the Bears have been back to the Northern C since winning the 2019 state championship. Gopher is optimistic in his team's ability to compete and believes that they have a chance any time they take the floor.

"Just one game at a time, one tournament at a time," Gopher said. "We feel as long as we get to divisional, as long as we still have a chance, we'll be fine."

Box Elder (11-6) will play the third-place team from the 8C tournament Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Great Falls Four Seasons Arena.

The Havre Daily News will once again have full coverage of the Northern C starting with previews Tuesday, and live game coverage, Tuesday through Saturday in Great Falls, as well as a complete wrapup in next Monday's Havre Daily News Hi-Line Sports Roundup.

Box Elder 51, Turner 34, 3rd

Turner 6 15 4 9 - 34

Box Elder 20 11 9 11 - 51

Turner - Dakota Krass 4, Emma Billmayer 5, Brandy Grabofsky 0, Brandy Calvert 8, Brooke Reed 4, Shyan Krass 13, Hannah Richman 0, Meridian King-Snider 0, Kate Kimmel 0.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Turner's Shyan Krass, left, scores during Saturday's District 9C girls consolation game in Havre. At the hands of Box Elder, Turner's three-year run to Great Falls came to an end. For more photos, go to www.havredailynews.com.

Box Elder - Annalise Johnson 2, Angela Gopher 5, Neferti Standing Rock 0, Kendra Gopher 0, Mariah Arkinson 7, Tayleigh Sutherland 3, Abria Small Boy 0, Brielle Sun Child 3, Tayleigha Sun Child 0, Arial Gopher 0, Kyla Momberg 28, Breanna Bacon 3.

Box Elder 65, Chinook 42, lo

Chinook 13 7 10 12 - 42

Box Elder 13 19 22 11 - 65

Chinook - Jade Cecrle 0, Bree Swanson 4, Britton Elliot 6, Torin Cecrle 0, Anna Terry 0, Hallie Neibauer 12, Jayden Miller 6, Teagan Richman 0, Jenna Liddle 0, Allison Powell 14.

Box Elder - Annalise Johnson 2, Angela Gopher 18, Neferti Standing Rock 3, Kendra Gopher 3, Mariah Arkinson 8, Tayleigh Sutherland 2, Abria Small Boy 1, Tayleigha Sun Child 0, Arial Gopher 7, Kyla Momberg 18, Breanna Bacon 3.


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