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State B girls: Bigfork achieves perfect end to perfect season with state title

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Posted at 10:35 PM, Mar 11, 2023

GREAT FALLS — A perfect end to a perfect season.

The Bigfork girls capped off an undefeated season with a 49-37 win over Big Timber in the Class B state championship game on Saturday night in Great Falls, locking up the Valkyries first state title in program history.

“Pretty surreal, truthfully,” said head coach Cortnee Gunlock. “You know, this was our goal from the beginning of the season. And they wanted it and I'm not going to lie, our road was hard with the three South teams. They're probably three of the best teams here. So, we had to work for it. I commend them all. They're great teams. And to go undefeated, this is pretty crazy.”

Bigfork led from wire to wire, jumping out a 14-3 lead after the first quarter and pushing it to 24-8 at halftime.

The Herders, state champs in 2021, rose to the challenge in the second half - keeping the game from becoming a blowout with big shots from their stars Bailey Finn and Kameryn Ketcham who each finished with 12 points. They had the green light all game, combining for 26 attempted three point shots.

“I expected what we got. Scrappy, quick guards that play good hard defense and they're great shooters and they rebound,” coach Gunlock said. “We’ve been preparing all year for that. We knew what we had to do this year to to close it out.”

Bigfork again rode the stellar play of sophomore and coach’s daughter Braeden Gunlock, who is undoubtedly the MVP of the tournament. Gunlock scored 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, grabbed six rebounds, dished out three assists and recorded two steals. Scout Nadeu scored seven points and snagged a game high 11 rebounds.

“Braeden is one of those quiet kids, but she’s an animal on the court,” coach Gunlock said. “She’s consistent. I know what I’m going to get out of her. And when I tell her I need something, I know she’ll bring the effort for me.”

Bigfork finished the season a perfect 25-0, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t be back on this stage for the next few years. They graduate three seniors, but key pieces like Gunlock, her sister Paeten, Ava Davey and others will return for another run but in a different classification as Bigfork makes the jump to Class A next year.

“We’re super excited, and have been dreaming about this moment for years,” Braeden said. “Just hope we can do it again next year."

In the third-place game freshman star Madison O’Connor scored 24 points and the Baker girls claimed a third place trophy with a 70-68 win over Huntley Project.

Sophomore star Paige Lofing had 32 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for the Red Devils who came up just short. Emily Enos and Hope Gonsioroski both added 12 points for the Spartans in the win.