BILLINGS — Two teams were left in the State C girls basketball tournament, as (1E) Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale took on (1N) Fort Benton for a chance at glory and a championship on Saturday night.
The Longhorns dominated Manhattan Christian in the semifinal round and the undefeated Mavericks squeaked past Roy-Winifred.
Saturday's championship was back and forth all game until Fort Benton pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 74-60.
"I wouldn't want to do this with any other team. The support we give each other and the trust we have in each other, it's something that's so special," said Fort Benton senior Aspen Giese. "We wanted to do it for each other, we got this win for each other."
The first half of this game was as close as can be. Fort Benton led 18-17 after the first quarter and remained up one point, 34-33, going into halftime.
For the Longhorns, Giese was at the forefront of their opening-half effort. She was on fire, finishing the first half scoring almost 50% of the team's points. She had 16 points heading into the third quarter, making four 3-pointers out of five attempts.
"We went to a shoot around earlier, I mean, I was hitting my shots," Giese said of her 3-point clinic in the first half. "I've been shooting those shots for a long time, just let my body take over I guess."
Junior Jaycee Erickson led the Mavericks with 10 points at the break.
After a back-and-forth third quarter, the Longhorns pulled ahead 49-46.
"I think going up into the fourth quarter was really big for us," said Giese.
In the fourth, they created even more separation to take a 59-47 lead just a few minutes in. The Longhorns cruised through the rest of the fourth quarter to win 74-60 and become the 2021 State C girls basketball champions.
"Happy for the kids, jacked for them. I mean, they're great kids, they deserve it -- pretty excited," said Longhorns head coach Cassie Pimperton. "(Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale) made us work our butts off and earn it."
Giese finished with a team-high 19 points for the Longhorns. Junior Ashlee Wang had 17 and sophomore Emerson Giese had 14 points, making 10 of 11 free throws.
Erickson had a game-high 20 points for the Mavericks.