GREAT FALLS — All three top seeds advanced to the semifinals at the State B girls basketball tournament in Great Falls. Southern B No. 2-seed Big Timber, the 2021 state champs, will join Bigfork, Malta, and Huntley Project in Friday night games with a trip to Saturday's championship at stake.
Bigfork 52, Baker 38
The undefeated Bigfork girls withstood a steep challenge from Baker, but pulled away in the second half for a 52-38 win.
The Spartans answered the Valkyries shot for shot in the first half, heading to the break with a 22-21 lead before Bigfork outscored them 15-5 in the third quarter to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Braeden Gunlock scored a game high 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and recorded six steals to pace Bigfork. Scout Nadeau added 12 points, while Paeten Gunlock put on a defensive clinic with eight steals. The Valkyries as a team had 22 steals and forced 32 turnovers.
Hope Gonsioroski led Baker with 11 points and six rebounds, but the Spartans shot just 26.4% from the field. Freshman star Madison O'Connor was held to just seven points on 2-of-14 from the field, turning the ball over 12 times.
Bigfork will advance to face Huntley Project in the State B semifinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m., while Baker will look to stay alive in the consolation bracket.
Huntley Project 70, Wolf Point 28
The Huntley Project girls rolled into the State B semifinals with a 70-28 win over Wolf Point in the first round.
Paige Lofing led all scorers with 25 points and eight rebounds. She had 18 points in the first half alone. Lilly Zimmer added 13 points and six rebounds in the winning effort.
Only four Wolf Point players scored, led by Sierra Hamilton with 16 points. As a team, Wolf Point only made 12-of-58 field goals for a 20-percent clip. The Red Devils out-rebounded the Wolves 46-29.
Huntley Project will move on to face Bigfork, Friday at 6:30 p.m., while Wolf Point gets a date with Baker in Friday morning loser-out action.
Malta 45, Columbus 38
Addy Anderson scored 21 points to lead the Malta M-Ettes to a 45-38 win over Columbus in the first round of the State B tournament in Great Falls.
Malta led for much of the game, but Columbus managed to stay within striking distance until the very end.
Anderson only had eight points at half, but provided the majority of the offense in the final 16 minutes. For the game she finished 8-of-10 from the field including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Allison Kunze had a near double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Izzy Gurie led the Cougars with 12 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Aubrey Winter added seven points and nine rebounds in the loss.
Malta, which owns nine state titles in 19 championship game appearances, will move on to face Big Timber in the semifinals on Friday at 8 p.m.
Columbus will try to keep its season alive in the consolation bracket.
Big Timber 43, Missoula Loyola 34
Bailey Finn scored 17 points to help Big Timber head back to the State B semifinals with a 43, 34 win over Missoula Loyola.
Big Timber had a monstrous day on the boards, out-rebounding Loyola 48-28 behind Sheyanna Wolf with 12 rebounds and RaeAnna King pulled down 14 rebounds. Kameryn Ketcham joined Finn in double figures with 13 points.
The Breakers were led by Gio Horner who had 13 points in the loss. Charlotte Cummings had eight points and eight rebounds.
The Herders, who won a state title in 2021, will face North champion Malta in the semifinals Friday night at 8 p.m.
Loyola will face Columbus in Friday afternoon loser out action.