ENNIS — With Seeley-Swan taking home the Western C divisional girls basketball championship, Manhattan Christian and West Yellowstone had to square off Monday night in Ennis in a challenge game. The winner clinched a spot at the state tournament, while the loser would see its season come to an end.
As soon as the ball tipped the Eagles soared to a huge lead. Anchoring the way was Kiersten VanKirk, who netted a total 12 points in this contest and helped Manhattan Christian jump out to an 18-6 first-quarter lead on their way to a 47-36 win.
West Yellowstone fought back in the second and third quarters, though. Behind Danna Ochoa's game-high 17 points, the Wolverines were within three points with about 5:30 to play in the third.
However, Manhattan Christian stepped it up a a notch and was able to rally back and take a commanding 12-point lead heading into the final eight minutes of the game.
West Yellowstone hit some big shots late in the fourth, but Manhattan Christian was able to seal the game at the free throw line to punch its ticket to the state tournament.
“I’m thrilled to be heading back to state, taking two 22-win teams to state is something I’ll never forget," said Manhattan Christian head coach Jeff Bellach. "And we won't take it for granted, we’re going to go over there with the mentality that we can get things done.”