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Red-hot Knights shock Belt, Longhorns hold off Outlaws setting up all 9C girls championship


Last updated 2/26/2021 at 8am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

North Star's Jade Wendland, middle, drives through the Belt defense during Thursday night's Northern C girls semifinal in Great Falls. The Knights continued their amazing run with a narrow win over the Huskies, setting up a rematch of last weekend's 9C championship game with Fort Benton.

GREAT FALLS - North Star is having some kind of special postseason. And as the Knights attempt a run in the Northern C Divisional Girls Basketball Tournament, they are now just one win away from doing that after they defeated Belt, 37-32, Thursday night at the Great Falls Four Seasons Arena.

The teams went back-and-forth in a defensive struggle. North Star held a 21-14 lead at the half, but the Huskies battled back to take a 28-27 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the game.

"Just keep playing. Keep our composure, keep calm," North Star head coach Jennifer Wendland said to her team after they gave up the lead. "We want this win. We're not expected to be here and let's just go out and prove people wrong that we belong here."

The Knights responded to their coach's message by scoring eight straight points to retake the lead to make it 35-28 with just under two minutes remaining. The Knights held off any comeback attempt from the Huskies to secure a spot in the Northern C championship game.

The Knights shot 36.8 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from the free-throw line. Only one player reached double digits in scoring as Kaytlyn Domire recorded 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor.

"Belt ran a nice tight zone on us, and it was hard for us to get back into our offense but we just kept doing one possession at a time," Wendland said.

Lindsey Paulson scored 21 points for the Huskies. Outside of that, the Huskies struggled to produce on offense as they shot 24.4 percent from the field and only one other player scored more than five points. Belt finished second in the District 8C Tournament and defeated Augusta Wednesday to open Northern C play. They will play today against Box Elder in a loser-out game to see who will play for the Northern C consolation on Saturday.

North Star meanwhile, defeated Geraldine-Highwood Tuesday to start the Northern C tournament. In the championship game, North Star will face Fort Benton, who the Knights upset in the District 9C tournament championship game. In order to defeat the Longhorns again, the Knights will need to be ready.

"We're going to have to come out. We're going to have to play tough and just be prepared to do our homework," Wendland said.

North Star will play Fort Benton for the Northern C championship at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Great Falls Four Seasons Arena.

Fort Benton pulls away to set championship rematch

In order to make it an all 9C championship game, Fort Benton had to battle past defending Northern C champion Roy-Winifred in the semifinals, and the Longhorns did just that, with a 51-42 victory Thursday night at the Great Falls Four Seasons Arena.

Roy-Winifred took a two-point lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Longhorns responded with a 3-pointer from Emerson Giese to retake the lead. Fort Benton used defense and clutch free-throw shooting through the rest of the quarter to keep the Outlaws at bay.

"We got stops when we needed to and hit some key shots to keep us in the game," said Fort Benton head coach Cassie Pimperton. "Free throws down the stretch were huge."

On offense, Aspen Giese led the Longhorns with 16 points. Other Longhorns who contributed include Emerson Giese with 14 points and Ashlee Wang with 13 points. As a team, the Longhorns shot 70 percent from the free-throw line.

Madeline Heggem led the Outlaws on offense with 23 points off of 6-for-11 shooting from the field. However, no other Outlaw reached double digits in scoring and they turned the ball over 17 times. District 8C champion Roy-Winifred will play Geraldine-Highwood this afternoon in a loser-out game to keep their chances alive for the Northern C consolation trophy.

Fort Benton advanced to the Northern C championship game Saturday where they will face fellow District 9C team North Star. It will be a rematch of the District 9C Tournament championship game where Fort Benton lost their only conference game in an upset loss to North Star. The Longhorns beat the Knights twice in the regular season before then.

"They (Knights) know us really well. We know them really well. It's going to be a defensive battle," Pimperton said. "We're up for the challenge and it's going to be fun. North Star is rolling right now, so we're going to have to buckle down and do the little things right."

Fort Benton and North Star battle for the Northern C title at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Great Falls Four Seasons Arena. The winner gets an automatic bid to the Class C state tournament.

Box Elder keeps its season alive

After a loss to defending Northern C Divisional Girls Basketball Tournament champion Roy-Winifred Wednesday night, Box Elder bounced back with a 65-43 win over Valier in a loser-out game Thursday at the Great Falls Four Seasons Arena.

Box Elder got their offense going early against the Panthers as they opened the game by scoring 16 points in the first quarter. The Bears' offense then outscored the Panthers, 21-10, in the second quarter to take a 37-22 lead into halftime. The Bears didn't let the Panthers cut into their lead for the rest of the game as they held on to win.

After shooting less than 20 percent from the field against Roy-Winifred, the Bears improved to 35.8 percent shooting against the Panthers. They also went 14-for-19 from the free-throw line. Mariah Arkinson led the Bears with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field. Kyla Momberg was right behind her with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field and 3-for-3 shooting from the free-throw line.

Valier's shooting percentage was not much worse than Box Elder's as they shot 34.9 percent from the field. Unfortunately for them, they fell behind because they turned the ball over 38 times and went 12-for-25 from the free-throw line. Hannah Monroe led the Panthers with 11 points on 3-for-8 shooting.

Valier finished second in the District 10C Tournament before losing to Fort Benton, 78-31, to open Northern C play Wednesday night. With two losses, they are now eliminated from the tournament.

The Bears opened the Northern C with a dominant, 74-43, victory over Cascade Tuesday. The Bears then fell to Roy-Winifred, 44-19, Wednesday night in a game where they struggled offensively. With the win over the Rivals, the Bears remain alive for the consolation trophy. Even with the consolation, they will need help in order to force a challenge game that they would need to win to earn a bid to the state tournament.

Box Elder will try to stay alive again when the Bears take on Belt this afternoon for a spot in Saturday's Northern C consolation game.

Box Elder 65, Valier 43, lo

Valier 12 10 7 14 – 43

Box Elder 16 21 14 14 – 65

Valier – Erica Ramsey 9, Kinley Kovatch 2, Aubrey Bowers 0, Hannah St. Goddard 2, Hannah Monroe 11, Hylee Layne 2, Loni Orcutt 10, Katelyn Lamere 0, Natalee St. Goddard 0, Emma Valdez 7, Sierra Curry 0.

Box Elder – Annalise Johnson 6, Angela Gopher 5, Neferti Standing Rock 0, Kendra Gopher 2, Mariah Arkinson 14, Tayleigh Suherland 6, Abria Small Boy 4, Brielle Sun Child 3, Tayleigha Sun Child 2, Ariel Gopher 2, Kyla Momberg 13, Breanna Bacon 8.

North Star 37, Belt 32, SF

Belt 8 6 9 9 – 32

North Star 5 16 4 12 – 37

Belt – Lindsey Paulson 21, Maddison Ostermar 0, Hattie Bumgamer 0, Alivia Shelton 0, Kylee Permann 3, Ahmia Lords 0, Sabrina Wing 7, Rally Gliko 1.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Fort Benton's Ashlee Wang, left, shoots over a Roy-Winifred defender during Thursday night's Northern C semifinal in Great Falls. The Longhorns won to advance to Saturday's championship game against North Star.

North Star – Laynie Sattoriva 6, Jade Wendland 9, Kenidee Wolery 4, Shayla Borlaug 4, Kaytlyn Domire 11, Rainee Watson 3.

Fort Benton 51, Roy-Winifred 42, SF

Roy-Winifred 11 19 7 5 – 42

Fort Benton 16 9 12 14 – 51

Roy-Winifred – Trinity Edwards 7, Megan Bergum 8, Cadence Tillman 0, Madeline Heggem 23, Jayda Southworth 0, Hannah Ewen 0, Isabelle Heggem 4, Dakota Crabtree 0.

Fort Benton – Hailee Wang 0, Ashlee Wang 13, Aspen Giese 16, Abby Clark 6, Samantha Vielleux 0, Maci Molinario 2, Cloe Kalanick 0, Emerson Giese 14.


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