Senior's Mariah Linse

Billings Senior's Mariah Linse looks to pass while defended by Laurel's McKenna Robertus Saturday at the Senior gym.

BRONTE WITTPENN, Gazette staff

BILLINGS – Nine months removed from their third-place finish at the Class AA state girls basketball tournament, the Billings Senior Broncs insist they’re still invigorated by their season-ending run.

Winners of 10 of their last 12 games a year ago, the Broncs opened their 2017-18 season with a 64-48 win over the Laurel Locomotives at the Senior High gym Saturday afternoon.

Kola Bad Bear scored 19 points and Ellie Ostermiller added 10 as Senior put nine players into the scorebook in eventually pulling away from Laurel of the Eastern A. Samantha Bonenberger had eight points and Tavy Findon and Bailey Eleazer both finished with six.

“We’re a much more confident team this year than we were last year at this point, by far,” Senior coach Zach Robbins said. “The players are used to what we run, they’re used to us coaches, they know what we expect from them and they know their roles. Everybody does their role, that’s the nice thing."

Broncs guard Mariah Linse, who scored five points, said the team’s season-ending run has a lot to do with its growing confidence.

“It was a huge boost (last year), I think everyone was just excited to get a trophy,” said Linse, who made one of the Broncs’s four 3-pointers. “It really helped us boost our momentum this year, I think. We’re all just excited to see if we can try and finish better than we did last year.”

Laurel (1-1) was coming off a win Friday night over Columbus. Senior led by nine points at halftime, but a third-quarter surge by the Broncs helped put the Locomotives in a big hole.

Sammi Spitzer hit two 3-pointers and led Laurel with 16 points. Kaitlyn Dawes added nine.

“I was happy with how our girls competed,” said Laurel coach Amber Griffith, whose team is off until Dec. 14. “Senior is a really good basketball team and they execute well. It definitely gave us an idea of what we need to continue working on.”

The Broncs play host to Hellgate and Sentinel next weekend when the Missoula AA schools come calling to play Senior, Skyview and West.

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