BILLINGS — Moments after the Three Forks girls had their time in the spotlight, standing at center court of Rimrock Auto Arena having their pictures taken, the Three Forks boys rushed the stage so to speak for a second group photo. There were a lot index fingers being held up.
The girls followed the boys Saturday night, winning their own Southern B Divisional championship a couple hours after the boys did with a 63-44 victory over the Colstrip Fillies.
Kyle Olson scored 21 points and Shainy Mack added 13 points and six assists as the Wolves kept their season record unblemished. The win also avenged last season’s divisional title game loss to Colstrip, though there is still more work to be done. The state tournament begins Thursday in Missoula.
“There’s so many good feelings out there, good vibes,” said Olson, who made four of her nine 3-point attempts. “It’s really great to just be around it.”
Maybe the Wolves didn’t expect to be 23-0 at this point in the season, but they knew a strong one was in store once they finished third at state a year ago. Still, they know that even if their record carries some gravitas, it also carries a bit of a burden.
“It’s super exciting … we have more things to do, hopefully,” Mack said. “We know we have a target on our backs, we know everyone wants to beat us. We just talk about each game we have to start strong and show them who we are.”
Saturday night, the Wolves led by six at the end of the first quarter, and built it to 12 by halftime.
And just when the Fillies got the deficit to single digits in the third quarter on a three-point play by Tegan Harris, Sydney Lane and Mack responded with 3-pointers. The lead was 18 by the end of the third quarter.
Shelby Jordan scored 12 points and Sossity Spotted Wolf added 10 for the Fillies, who suffered their first loss of the season to a Class B team. The Fillies, who lost to Class A Glendive in the regular season, head to state 19-2.
Wolves coach Mike Sauvageau knows these past two years have been a special time for his players.
“These girls paid their dues when they were freshman and sophomores, they took it on the chin pretty hard,” said Sauvageau, who is in his second season with the girls program. “They’ve gone through the wars, and the last two years they’ve reaped some of the rewards.
“Coach (Norm) Darlington who was with them before worked their tails off in the summer and played a lot of basketball. He did a great job of getting them when they were freshmen and sophomores getting them to go to tournaments. He set them up for their junior and senior year and we’ve been able to press the envelope to wear we are today.”
Townsend 45, St. Labre 33
The tournament turned out to be a bit of a grind for the Townsend Bulldogs. Maybe a bit more so than expected.
But the Bulldogs will head to next week's state tournament with the divisional third-place trophy, and they hope a little momentum, after beating St. Labre 45-33.
The championship game between Colstrip and Three Forks was still in progress at press time.
Townsend came to Billings having been ranked No. 2 pretty much all season in the 406mtsports.com rankings, and the only losses the Bulldogs had were to top-ranked Three Forks. But sixth-ranked Colstrip dropped the 'Dogs into the loser-out bracket on the divisional's first day, where they survived their next three games.
"State, here we come," Townsend coach Dan Hazlett said after beating St. Labre. "It's nice to get third place. Winning three in a row (at divisionals) is not easy. The first game on Thursday was just tough, so it was good to see the way they reacted. It could have gone either way, but they went the right way."
Against St. Labre, Lainee Hill scored 15 points to lead Townsend, which heads to state 20-4.
Madison Bighorn led St. Labre with 15 points. Priscilla Flatmouth added 11 rebounds for the Braves.
St. Labre coach Andy Elkshoulder seemed more than happy to finish fourth, which also qualified the Braves for state. He said this winter's weather forced the cancellation of multiple practices and that the Braves missed several days of practice ahead of the team's 3B District tournament.
"I was amazed that we got out of districts," he said. "Right now, they're not in the shape that I'd like them to be in, but they're getting by. But these are a good bunch of girls, very coachable with good attitudes. So we're proud to be here."
St. Labre 51, Jefferson 47
St. Labre built a 12-point lead in the third quarter and then hung on to beat Jefferson 51-47 in a morning loser-out game.
Priscilla Flatmouth scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds, and Teegan Ewing added 13 points for the Braves.
Aubrey McMaster scored 21 points to lead Jefferson. She averaged 24.0 points in her team's three tournament games.
Townsend 37, Roundup 33
Tavia Rooney had 12 points and 10 rebounds to help Townsend edge Roundup 37-33 in a morning loser-out game.
By winning, the Bulldogs qualified for the state tournament.
Roundup led 23-22 after three quarters, but Townsend build a 35-27 lead to get the win.
Chloe Cota had nine points to lead the Panthers.