BUTTE – Plentywood knocked off Ekalaka 54-45 in the first round of the State C girls basketball tournament Thursday in Butte. The Wildcats move on to Friday’s semifinal where they will take on the Rams of Winnett-Grass Range.
The Wildcats held off a pesky Ekalaka squad that wouldn’t go away. Plentywood led throughout the majority of the game, but had to sink free throws down the stretch to hold on to the win.
“Ekalaka’s a very scrappy ball team and they didn’t let us do what we wanted to do,” Plentywood head coach Randy Wangerin said. “I didn’t think we rebounded very well, but I’m happy with semi’s of the state tournament.”
Eighth-grader Liv Wangerin led the Wildcats in scoring, totaling 15 points off the bench while also grabbing seven rebounds. Brenna Osksa had 11 points and eight rebounds. Claire Callahan led Ekalaka with 13 points and eight rebounds.
“(Liv) has done a good job for us all year,” Wangerin said. “We’ve got a couple other eighth graders that didn’t play as much, but do a real good job, too.”
Both teams shot just 27 percent from the field, but Plentywood was able to force 21 turnovers compared to their 11.
Plentywood and Winnett-Grass Range are scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. on Friday.
Winnett-Grass Range 45, Ennis 29
Winnett-Grass Range punched their ticket to the semifinals with a wire-to-wire victory over Ennis. The No. 1 seed from the Northern C carried a 23-11 advantage into halftime after Sydney Browning hit a rainbow three at the first half buzzer.
“What I liked about our bunch is that we boxed out,” Winnett-Grass Range head coach Vic Westphal said. “We knew their bigs were tough, and I thought our kids, all five that were out there, did a good job of boxing out, so I was pretty tickled with that.”
Ennis cut into the Rams’ lead in the third quarter, eventually only trailing by four. However, the Rams’ defense swallowed up the Mustangs, holding Ennis to just 21 percent shooting from the field.
Taylor Stahl led Winnett-Grass Range with 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Brynn Jolma scored just six points, but made her presence felt on the glass by snatching a game-high 11 rebounds.
“(Taylor) sucked it up. She was hurting tonight,” Westphal said. “She wasn’t feeling quite up to par, but I tell you what, she played hard. You could see her big heart out there.”
Winnett-Grass Range will face Plentywood in the semifinals Friday night with a shot at the state title game.
Ennis moves to loser out action where they will take on Ekalaka Friday afternoon.