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Northern C: Fort Benton reigns as boys, girls sweep titles

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Fort Benton girls.jpg
Posted at 12:15 AM, Feb 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-28 10:10:55-05

GREAT FALLS — Fort Benton, the North is yours.

The Longhorn boys and girls basketball teams each won Northern C divisional championships on Saturday. It was the second year in a row for the Longhorn boys, who outlasted Belt in a dramatic 46-45 double-overtime victory.

For the girls, it was redemption, after last season ended at the divisional tournament when they lost in the semifinal round and couldn't challenge.

BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP: Fort Benton 46, Belt 45 (2OT)

Second chances.

That's the theme for Fort Benton's boys, who survived to beat Belt 46-45 in double overtime and collect a second straight Northern C divisional championship.

Fort Benton opened the game on a 9-0 run, but Belt trimmed the deficit to two at halftime. Fort Benton extended the lead to seven in the fourth, but a Bridger Vogl 3-pointer tied the game at 34 in the final minute, sending the game into overtime.

Hayden Diekhans, who led the Longhorns with 20 points, had an opportunity to win the game with .5 seconds left in overtime. But the senior missed his first free throw and had to settle for double overtime.

Still tied in the second extra frame, Belt fouled Nick Marais with 1.5 seconds left. This time, the Horns didn't waste the opportunity. Marais missed his first but connected on the second free throw to make it 46-45. The Huskies threw the ball away on the ensuing inbound, sealing the win for the Longhorns.

Fort Benton will play the No. 2 seed out of the Eastern division at the State C tournament, which will be held March 10-13 at Lockwood.

Aidan McDaniel led Belt with 16 points. The Huskies will take the second seed out of the North and play Western C champion Manhattan Christian in the first round of the state tournament.

GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP: Fort Benton 35, North Star 31

Fort Benton overcame a nine-point second-half deficit to beat North Star 35-31 in the Northern C girls divisional championship.

North Star held a slim lead for most of the first half and extended the lead to 29-20 in the fourth quarter with a free throw and a Shayla Borlaug bucket inside. But then Aspen Giese took over for the Longhorns, making a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than two minutes to go. North Star's ensuing efforts to retake the lead were thwarted by Abby Clark, who came up with two huge blocks. The Longhorns then sunk their bonus free throws to put it away.

Giese was the lone Longhorn in double digits with 17 points, including 10 in the second half.

"It meant the world to us, just to get this chance again. Our motto was we got to stay hungry, stay and win the championship," Giese said. "We knew even though Roy-Winifred won, we knew that we'd be going to state anyways. But we didn't want second, we wanted first and North Star gave us a battle. They came out ready to play and we came out ready to play too. And it was a great game and just feels so good."

Borlaug led North Star with 10 points. North Star will face Roy-Winifred in a challenge game for the North's second spot at state.

At State C in Lockwood, Fort Benton will play the Eastern C's No. 2 seed in the opening round.

BOYS CONSOLATION: Chinook 76, Heart Butte 59

Ethan Bell had a game-high 29 points to lead Chinook to a 76-59 win over Heart Butte in the Northern C boys consolation game.

After a close first quarter, Chinook outscored the Warriors 20-4 in the second to make the difference. Jordan Calf Looking led Heart Butte with 15 points.

Due to Fort Benton's win in the title game, Chinook was unable to force a challenge game and finished third.

GIRLS CONSOLATION: Roy-Winifred 54, Box Elder 41

Isabelle Heggem scored 15 points and Roy-Winifred built a large second-half lead to outlast Box Elder 54-41 in the Northern C girls consolation game.

Roy-Winifred led throughout the first half, but Box Elder cut the deficit to three points late in the second quarter. However, the Outlaws would extend the lead to 20 in the third quarter.

Madeline Heggem added 13 points for the Outlaws, who will challenge North Star on Monday at 3:30 p.m. for the second seed in the State C tournament.

SATURDAY MORNING SCORES

BOYS

Heart Butte 63, Simms 55, loser-out
Chinook 65, Roy-Winifred 41, loser-out