BILLINGS — Twin Bridges gutted out a win over defending champion Roy-Winifred, while Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale used a massive second half to pull away from Manhattan Christian as the Falcons and Mavericks set up a Saturday night showdown for the State C girls title.
Twin Bridges 44, Roy-Winifred 42
For the first time since 2012, the Twin Bridges Falcons will play for a State C girls championship.
The Falcons defeated Roy-Winifred in a slugfest, 44-42, in the semifinals on Thursday night inside First Interstate Arena in Billings. Falcons head coach Hannah Konen was a junior on the 2012 team.
"That is just the culture and DNA of this team. We've been in a lot of difficult games this season. ... As much as we work on our skills and game management, we spend a lot of time working on how we can control our emotions. We don't get too high, don't get too low. ... We just had that heart and team unity to keep pushing," Konen told MTN Sports.
"People say I have a cold heart and don't show a lot of emotions, but when (little sister) Emma (Konen) and I hugged at the final buzzer it definitely brought some tears to my eyes. We've been chasing this dream for a long time, and not just Emma, but all those girls. I've been involved with them since middle school and elementary school, so this is something we've been working towards for a long time."
Twin carried a two-point lead into halftime but found themselves trailing by one entering the fourth quarter. However, clutch free throw shooting down the stretch helped the Falcons seal their trip Saturday's title game. Twin was 11 of 14 from the charity stripe.
"Last year we really focused on free throws with not a lot of success, so we kind of had to get creative this year on how we can improve that free throw percentage, and it paid off on the biggest stage," said Konen.
Allie Dale had 22 points and eight rebounds to lead Twin Bridges. She also was a pest defensively racking up six steals.
"She's just that type of kid that understands the whatever it takes to win mentality. She does the dirty work and takes no plays off. The 32 minutes she just played on both ends of the floor was phenomenal," Konen said.
Isabelle Heggem had 21 points to lead Roy-Winifred, who will play Chinook in loser-out action on Friday at 3 p.m. Twin is in Saturday's 6 p.m. championship game.
Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale 52, Manhattan Christian 25
Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale left no doubt on Thursday night.
The Mavericks out-scored Manhattan Christian 34-13 in the second half to pull away for a dominant 52-25 victory over the Eagles.
The two sides grinded it out for the first 16 minutes, but Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale found something at halftime to blow the game open. The Mavericks shot 13 of 23 from the floor in the second half and were 20-of-47 for the game.
"We talked about putting more pressure in the full court and sticking with what we do really well and being relentless on the ball," Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale head coach Amber Erickson told MTN Sports. "Offensively we were standing a lot in our zone offense and settling for 3-pointers.
"We're tall, but they're taller than us. You're looking at 6-3, 6-3, 6-foot, 5-11, and we just settled and I wanted us to get into gaps a lot more. There's a difference between just passing to the wing and getting a 3, versus getting into the paint and drifting and kicking and getting a 3, so I thought our offensive adjustments in the second half our kids executed really well."
Paige Wasson didn't have the spectacular shooting night she did on Wednesday, but she still scored 11 points and had six assists. Teagan Erickson was the star for the Mavericks on Thursday, scoring 23 points, pulling down nine rebounds and handing out five assists.
"They've put a lot of time in in the offseason. They've played a lot together since they were in third grade, fourth grade, this group in particular has," Erickson said. "(Wasson) is an amazing player and Teagan is, too, so I'm blessed to have two athletes and players like that on my team. (Thursday) was big for Teagan because she's usually a pass-first kid.
"I get on her a lot about shooting the ball more and she doesn't always do that. (Thursday) she took the shots she needed too and she hit some big ones and played with a lot of confidence I thought."
Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale will play in its second championship game in three years, having lost to Fort Benton in 2021. The Mavericks will play Twin Bridges at 6 p.m. on Saturday night.
"We played them twice last year at state. We played them in the first round and we played them for the consolation. We played them once this summer at a team camp, so we're pretty familiar with them. It's going to be an exciting, up-tempo style championship game," Erickson said.