The Bears are back

Box Elder girls turn away Chinook in thrilling 9C title game


Last updated 2/21/2022 at 8:21am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Box Elder's Kyla Momberg drives past Chinook's Hallie Neibauer during the District 9C girls championship game Saturday night in the Havre High gymnasium. The Bears captured the title.

On Saturday night at Havre High Gymnasium, the Box Elder Bears were looking to build on their strong season with a District 9C girls basketball championship. While they struggled early as they fell behind to the Chinook Sugarbeeters, they battled in the second half to win, 56-51, and bring home the 9C trophy.

"I'm really happy," Box Elder's Kyla Momberg said. "We have three goals: First districts, then divisionals and then state. Just knowing that we finished one goal feels really nice."

The Bears had to earn the win as they trailed by 10 points late in the third quarter. But a 13-0 run gave them the lead in the fourth quarter. Clutch free throws down the stretch then helped Box Elder clinch the district title.

"It was a tough battle tonight. (Chinook) played great and they challenged us," Box Elder head coach Joel Rosette said. "I'm proud of the girls for battling back to championship form."

The first quarter saw the Bears and Sugarbeeters exchange scores. The game got started with a layup from Angela Gopher to give Box Elder the lead. Moments later, Alexus Seymour knocked down a 3-pointer to give Chinook the lead. Bree Swanson and Hallie Neibauer then scored a pair of buckets to give the Sugarbeeters a 7-2 lead. Momberg then answered for the Bears with a three and a layup to tie the game.

Swanson knocked down a three to give the Sugarbeeters the lead again. Late in the quarter, Momberg made another three to tie the game. Mya Berreth answered for the Sugarbeeters as she made a three of her own in the closing seconds to give Chinook a 13-10 lead to end the quarter.

The Sugarbeeters opened the second quarter with a three from Britton Elliot to stretch the lead further. After Makaela Kelly scored for the Bears, Allison Powell and Berreth made a pair of baskets to give Chinook a 20-12 lead. Breanna Bacon tried to get the Bears some momentum with a bucket, but Seymour knocked down another three for the Sugarbeeters.

The Bears found some momentum with a 5-0 run over the next minute and a half. Momberg made a layup and one free throw to get things rolling and free throws from Gopher and Meiyah Sutherland cut the deficit to 23-19 with about three minutes left in the half.

Looking to take some momentum into halftime, the Sugarbeeters ended the half on an 8-2 run. Swanson got the run started with a layup. After Sutherland scored for the Bears, Torin Cecrle and Powell made a pair of buckets for the Sugarbeeters. Neibauer then knocked down a pair of free throws to give Chinook a 31-21 lead at the half. Chinook head coach Mike Jones believes his team played well in the first half because they listened to his pregame message.

"We came out and told the girls, 'We do a really nice job of playing and we had nothing to lose, nothing to be scared about," Jones said. "We told them, 'Don't play scared, there's nothing to be scared about. Just play your game,' and I think we did a heck of a job at that tonight."

The Sugarbeeters and Bears exchanged buckets through most of the third quarter. With about three minutes left in the frame, the Sugarbeeters had held steady as they had a 37-27 lead. But over the final few minutes of the quarter, the Bears showed why they were the tournament's No. 1 seed.

Sutherland and Momberg got the run started with back-to-back threes. After Neibauer nailed a three to give Chinook a 40-33 lead, Bacon knocked down a three of her own. After a Chinook turnover, Annalise Johnson knocked down a three at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 40-39 heading to the fourth. While the Box Elder offense got rolling, Rosette believes their defense helped them retake momentum.

"We're a defensive team," Rosette said. "Once our defense cranked into place, you started to see the speed of it pick it up and we started to play with a lot more confidence."

The Bears carried that momentum into the beginning of the fourth. Momberg got the frame started with a layup to give Box Elder the lead. A three by Bacon and another bucket from Momberg stretched the lead to 46-40 with about five minutes remaining. Momberg believes the team found a spark after being motivated in the huddle during a timeout.

"Somebody said let's dig deep and play with heart and I think all of us heard that," Momberg said. "Once we heard that, we just got it together and that's when we felt we were going to make a run."

Berreth and Neibauer made some plays to cut the deficit to 48-46 with less than two minutes left. But the Bears made their free throws down the stretch to clinch the win. Momberg finished the game with 22 points as she shot 8-for-13 from the field and 3-for-5 from deep. Bacon also scored 10 points to help lead Box Elder to victory.

"I just had confidence," Bacon said about her performance. "(Got to) have confidence in your shot and just follow through every time."

Neibauer led Chinook with 13 points while Swanson contributed 11 in the loss. Despite the loss, the Sugarbeeters' season will continue as they will head to the Northern C Divisionals this week.

The Bears will advance to the Northern C as the No. 1 seed from the 9C. As they ride the momentum of a district championship, they hope to keep things rolling in Great Falls.

"We haven't even peaked yet. We have so much potential," Momberg said.

The Box Elder Bears will start playing in the Northern C Divisionals in Great Falls this Thursday at 8:30 p.m. The Chinook Sugarbeeters will start the Northern C on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Box Elder 56, Chinook 51

BE - 10 11 18 17 - 56

CHI - 13 18 9 11 - 51

Box Elder - Kyla Momberg 22, Breanna Bacon 10, Angela Gopher 8, Meiyah Sutherland 6, Mariah Arkinson 5, Annalise Johnson 3, Makaela Kelly 2.

Cchinook - Hallie Neibauer 13, Bree Swanson 11, Alexus Seymour 9, Mya Berreth 7, Britton Elliot 5, Allison Powell 4, Torin Cecrle 2.

3-pointers: BE 7-16 (Kyla Momberg 3, Breanna Bacon 2, Meiyah Sutherland 1, Annalise Johnson 1), CHI 7-17 (Alexus Seymour 3, Bree Swanson 1, Britton Elliot 1, Mya Berreth 1, Hallie Neibauer 1). Fouls: BE 14, CHI 19. Fouled Out: None.

2022 Havre Daily District 9C Girls

All-Tournament Team

Kyla Momberg, Box Elder, Breanna Bacon, Box Elder, Angela Gopher, Box Elder, , Hallie Neibauer, Chinook, Bree Swanson, Chinook, Ashlee Wang, Fort Benton, Cloe Kalanick, Fort Benton, Alliya Pretty Paint, HLP, Kaytlyn Domire, North Star, Jayla Ramberg, CJI.

2022 Havre Daily District 9C Boys

All-Tournament Team

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The Box Elder Bears celebrate winning the District 9C championship Saturday night in Havre.

Blake Harmon, CJI, Braden Mattson, CJI, Kyle Harmon, CJI Bradyon Cline, Big Sandy, Lane Demontiney, Big Sandy, Toby Niederegger, Chinook Oskar Pula, Chinook, Gabe Saddler, Box Elder, Tyrus LaMere, Box Elder, Landis Arganbright, Fort Benton.


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