The Big Timber girls basketball team lost just two games last year – the Southern B divisional title game to Colstrip and a semifinal matchup against Forsyth at the State B tournament.
The loss on Friday night at the state tournament stung, as did the ensuing cancellation of the tournament, which kept the Herders from pursuing some hardware.
“It was pretty tough. They were pretty upset last year. We even talked about in the summer that it was unfinished," Big Timber head coach Kim Finn said. "We felt like we didn’t get a chance to finish and maybe get third place. We were really bothered by it. Our goal this year is to finish at the top if we can, at least top three, because we felt like we could have been a top three team last year.”
Big Timber’s roster is still largely intact from last season and is headlined by an inside-out duo that has been decimating defenses. Sophomore Bailey Finn and junior Emily Cooley highlight what has been an explosive offense, but Big Timber has several girls that can hurt opponents, which has been the biggest improvement for the Herders this year.
“Last year we had a struggle looking for our shots and using everyone," Big Timber senior Hailee Brandon said. "This year we’ve gotten a lot better about passing the ball, looking for your shot and looking for somebody else’s shot, looking for the open person.”
“Last year we were, one or two girls were doing the bulk of the scoring. If you pulled them out of the game, we didn’t do much," Kim Finn said. "We really worked hard all summer that we all have to be a threat, we all have to be someone that has to be guarded so we’re a team you can’t beat. If we have six good girls or seven good girls, it’s hard to stop one or two, we have five others coming in. We work really hard on making us a complete team. It looks like we’re doing a good job so far.”
Big Timber brings it on the defensive end, too. The Herders have held several teams below their season scoring average, as they’ve been able to suffocate their opponents with relentless ball pressure. With just three seniors on the roster, Big Timber is set up for a sustained run. The focus, though, is on this year and bringing home a trophy from the state tournament.
“They’ve gotten more confident, stronger, they believe in themselves and each other and they work together very well," said Kim Finn. "They know we have a state championship in us if we play like we can, so that’s our goal and we’re shooting for it.”
Big Timber is still unbeaten this year and certainly looks like it could be playing on Saturday night at the state tournament, which is currently set to be at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark in Billings March 11-13.