BILLINGS -- As one of three seniors on the Roundup roster, McKenna Sealey has seen the Panthers’ program grow. Her sophomore season, her first on varsity, Roundup didn’t make it out of districts. Last year, the Panthers made it to the Southern B Divisional but lost out.
And this year? Well, after beating St. Labre 48-29 in Thursday’s first round, the final game of the night at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, the Panthers find themselves in the semifinals.
“For us seniors, it’s really amazing to be here,” said Sealey. “Our end goal is to get to state. So I hope we can do that.”
Sealey made five of her six 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points. Faith Nichols added eight for the Panthers, who pulled away from a 24-17 halftime lead.
“No one on this team has ever went out there to get ‘theirs’ on any given night,” said Roundup’s first-year coach Dan Eiselein. “And my job’s easy because of it.”
It’ll get tougher Friday, when Roundup takes on undefeated Three Forks in the 8 p.m. semifinal. Eiselein acknowledged that the Wolves (21-0), who spent all season at No. 1 on the 406mtsports.com rankings, deserve such accolades. He also said the Panthers welcome the challenge.
“We want to measure ourselves against the best,” he said, “and I don’t think we’re going to shy away from it. We’re going to come out and play hard like we always do. That’s the expectation.”
Madison Bighorn scored nine points to lead St. Labre, which will play Forsyth in a 1:30 p.m. loser-out game Friday.
Three Forks 73, Forsyth 47
There wasn’t much else for Three Forks coach Mike Sauvageau to do but throw a little sunshine Forsyth’s way.
“We just don’t want to take anything away from them,” he said, taking a look toward Forsyth’s locker room, after his Wolves beat the Dogies 73-47 in the first round. “They’ve got some young players, they’re going to be pretty good in time. They’re where we were three or four years ago. It takes a while to figure out what’s going on.”
If that turns out to be true, the Dogies will take it. Because Three Forks stepped on the Rimrock Auto Arena floor at MetraPark and immediately looked like the undefeated team the Wolves are.
Three Forks led 26-9 after the first quarter, and from there it was really only a matter of playing out the string.
Shainy Mack had 10 points and eight assists by halftime, and Kyle Olson had 15 points for the Wolves (21-0). Olson finished with 22 points and Mack 17 on a combined 14-for-21 shooting as Sauvageau was able to get his bench ample playing time.
The Wolves, who placed third at state a year ago and have been a favorite to win it all this season, play Roundup in the semifinals.
“If we can just keep shooting the ball like we are,” he said, “I’ll be happy.”
Reese Pederson and Lindsey Hein led the Dogies with eight points.
Jefferson 43, Red Lodge 39
It's not like Jefferson senior Leah Vossler hadn't already done enough in the closing minutes of the Panthers' 43-39 first-round win over Red Lodge.
But after the game, as the other Panthers paraded toward the locker room, Vossler headed toward the end of the bench and gathered into her arms all the team's warmups and towels.
"She's a leader, and a leader serves," Jefferson coach Karson Klass deadpanned with a smile. "I guess that's how it goes."
Before cleaning up after her teammates, Vossler helped them rally from a nine-point deficit in less than a minute. Jefferson trailed 37-28 with 2:34 to play, but the Panthers went on an out-of-nowhere run of 15 unanswered points to take the win. Vossler had six points during that stretch, which included a stretch of three consecutive possessions where Red Lodge didn't get the ball past halfcourt.
"Intensity, that's all it was," said Vossler, who was second behind Aubrey McMaster's 19 points as the team's leading scorer and who had seven steals. "We just needed some intensity, and that's what we did."
Red Lodge led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, and Klass said it seemed like the "pit of despair" at times.
"It just goes to show they have an eternal engine that they're never going to give up," he said of his team, which will face Colstrip in Friday's first semifinal at 6:30 p.m. "To go places you have to do that."
Zoe Cortner had 17 points and Portia Cortner had 13 rebounds for Red Lodge, which will play Townsend in a loser-out game at noon on Friday.
Colstrip 54, Townsend 51 (2OT)
If Sossity SpottedWolf wasn't limping on the court, she was kneading her lower back, trying to ease the pain of taking another charge.
The Colstrip sophomore and the rest of the Fillies were taking their coach's message to heart.
"I always tell them nobody beats you on the court, you've got to leave a piece of you on the court," Roxie Wilson said after her Fillies defeated Townsend 54-51 in double overtime in the first round.
SpottedWolf finished with 19 points and Shelby Jordan added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Fillies, whose biggest lead in the game at any stretch was four points.
The game saw 10 ties and 16 lead changes. The final one came on a basket by Kya Egan, who gave Colstrip a 52-51 lead in the second overtime. SpottedWolf and Jordan added a free throw each, and Townsend didn't score after taking a one-point lead with 40 seconds to go.
Four Fillies starters fouled out, including SpottedWolf. But the Fillies, who improved to 19-1 and have yet to lose to a Class B team, found a way to get it done and move into the semifinals.
"It was very intense," SpottedWolf said. "We just had to play as a team and keep going together. It was very physical."
Townsend suffered its first loss to someone other than unbeaten Three Forks. Tavia Rooney and Charlotte Watson both had 13 points to lead the Bulldogs. Rooney also had 12 rebounds.