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State AA girls: Billings Skyview caps undefeated season with championship win over Missoula Hellgate

Skyview girls celebrate
Posted at 8:56 PM, Mar 09, 2024

MISSOULA — Billings Skyview can talk about the undefeated season now.

The Falcons, who lived by the one-game-at-a-time mantra all season, handled Missoula Hellgate 54-36 in the Class AA girls basketball state championship Saturday at Dahlberg Arena to put the finishing touches on an unblemished 24-0 season.

"I told them I can now talk about the record, because every game after we finished someone would say, 'Oh, you're so and so, you haven't lost,'" said first-year Skyview coach Randy Chase. "And now we're 0-0, and that's how I've always been, is one game a time. You got to the state title game, it's a special moment for these girls. It's something they'll remember forever, and to now be able to say they're state champs, that's going to be with them the rest of their lives."

Skyview's Breanna Williams again led the way, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, but the senior star got plenty of help from her teammates, especially late as she sat on the bench with four fouls. Rae Smart added 12 points and five rebounds, and Taryn Salveson had seven points, but it was the Falcons' defense that proved the difference Saturday.

Hellgate made just 13 of 51 field goals in the game and turned the ball over 17 times, as Skyview methodically pulled away after a back-and-forth first quarter that saw the Knights lead by five in the early going. Skyview battled back to take a 14-11 lead by the end of the quarter and separated to a 30-20 advantage at halftime.

"As a coaching staff, we trust our girls to do the right thing and get to the right spots. And, man, when they want to, they can lock down on defense and get the key stops," Chase said.

"We just stuck together as a team, played our hardest," added Skyview senior Kenzie Strachan. "Starts with defense, so we locked down on defense."

Hellgate was just 3-of-13 shooting in the third quarter and 3-of-17 in the fourth. Skyview was only slightly better — the Falcons made just 7 of 19 shots in the second half — but the Falcons, led by Williams, had a huge advantage at the free throw line, making 16 free throws to just five for Hellgate. Williams was a perfect 14 of 14 at the line.

"It feels really good, really good. We've been working hard this whole season, and it's just an amazing outcome," Strachan said.

The loss snapped an 11-game win streak for the Knights, who will end their season with a 17-7 overall record. Chloe Larsen had 12 points and eight rebounds to lead Hellgate. Alix Mund added nine points.

Billings West, which lost to Skyview in a semifinal game Friday, rebounded to win the third-place trophy Saturday. The Golden Bears defeated Missoula Sentinel 68-61 in overtime in a morning loser-out game and then topped Bozeman Gallatin in the consolation final 57-38.

In the third-place game, Kourtney Grossman scored 13 points to lead West, which also won the Class AA state volleyball championship in the fall. Halle Haber and Brooklyn Pierce each added 11 points for the Bears in the win over Gallatin.

Gallatin was led by Jada Davis with 13 points. The Raptors beat Missoula Big Sky 38-34 in a loser-out game earlier in the day.

This story will be updated.

Saturday loser-out scores

Billings West 68, Missoula Sentinel 61, OT

Bozeman Gallatin 38, Missoula Big Sky 34