GREAT FALLS – It’s been a long time coming for the Box Elder Lady Bears. For the first time since 1998, the team claimed a State C girls basketball championship by defeating Winnett-Grass Range, 52-34, last Saturday in Butte in a rematch of the divisional title.

Winnett-Grass Range won the Northern C divisional championship, but the Lady Bears got the last laugh. It was a wild postseason for Box Elder: a last-second district championship loss to Fort Benton, rebounding from the divisional loss, and finally surviving in the first round of the state tournament by beating Twin Bridges on a last-second 3-point shot by Nikayla Anderson.

Last year, Box Elder was stopped right at the doorstep of state. Now the girls are reaping the reward of bringing a title back to the community.

Story continues below

“It’s huge for our community. Rocky Boy Indian Reservation, Box Elder Schools, we get a ton of support,” said head coach Joel Rosette. “The girls have worked hard for this, though. Last year we thought we could have won state, as well, but we weren’t even able to get out of Northern C. This was a big year, the girls wanted to come back even hungrier. We expect to compete at a high level, that’s our program. We want to be here every year.”

“I knew we were going to get this one because we watch so much video from divisionals and we had to just fix our mistakes. I feel like we did and we pulled through and I’m just so proud of my team,” said Anderson, a senior on the team.

“It’s just like an unexplainable feeling, I feel great, I want to cry. I don’t want to cry, I want to be happy. Just an amazing feeling, a once-in-a-lifetime feeling maybe. It’s just great,” said junior Lilly Gopher.