GREAT FALLS — Before Saturday night's championships, the 2021 State A basketball tournament handed out third-place trophies in the consolation contests.
The Hardin girls once again settled for a state trophy that wasn't first place after defeating Whitefish 53-37. The boys game featured a first-round rematch, as Laurel pulled through against Ronan 56-49.
GIRLS: Hardin 53, Whitefish 37
Alyssa Pretty Weasel recorded a double-double and Hardin withstood a comeback attempt to win the State A girls consolation over Whitefish 53-37.
Hardin built a 14-point lead in the first half behind seven points from Pretty Weasel. But Whitefish responded with a 12-0 run to start the third quarter, capped off by an Ashton Ramsey 3-pointer to make it 27-25 Hardin. But Hardin never relinquished the lead, going on a run of its own to build a 50-32 lead late in the fourth.
Pretty Weasel finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Kamber Good Luck also added 11. Gracie Smyley finished with 12 points for Whitefish, while Brook Smith had 10.
Hardin's third-place finish comes after being named a co-champion when the 2019-2020 state championship was canceled. Prior to that, the Bulldogs took second three years in a row. Hardin will graduate just two seniors, Pretty Weasel and Navaeh Alden.
BOYS: Laurel 56, Ronan 49
Twice Laurel and Ronan played at the 2021 State A boys tournament, and twice the Locomotives came out on top, this time 56-49 in the consolation game. The Locomotives finished third with the win.
The teams matched each other blow for blow in the first half, with Laurel taking a 26-25 lead. Ronan struggled to score for the majority of the third quarter and Laurel took control behind an aggressive inside attack with Colter Bales to lead 41-30.
In the fourth the tables turned. Ronan cut the deficit to 47-43 with under two minutes to play, and Laurel missed numerous free throws to give the Chiefs chances down the stretch. But Ronan couldn't get the big shot to fall, and Laurel survived.
Bales led the Locomotives with 21 points and five rebounds, while Richard Cortese had 16 points, including a thunderous dunk in the second quarter.
Girma Detwiler and Leonard Burke each had 14 points for the Chiefs, while Elijah Tonasket had 13. Detwiler collected also collected six rebounds.