HAMILTON -- The Western B divisional girls basketball tournament began on Thursday at Hamilton High School. Two teams will advance from the three-day tournament to the State B tournament in Butte March 12-14. Here are the recaps from Thursday's game.
Bigfork 57, Anaconda 49
A pair of big 3-point baskets sent Bigfork into halftime with a lead, and the Valkyries went on to defeat the Anaconda Copperheads 57-49 to advance to the semifinal round in the final game of the day.
Trailing 24-22 after letting a seven-point lead slip away, freshman Scout Nadeau knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds to re-give the Valkyries the lead and the momentum.
"Those were really big," senior Ansleigh Edgerton said. "Just getting us up at half was huge and then it helped the bench and energy leading up to that."
Nadeau finished with eight while Emma Berreth led Bigfork with 18 points and Edgerton added 12. Logan Stetzner led Anaconda (13-8) with 22 points.
Bigfork (13-8) never relented the lead down the stretch on its way to getting a rematch with 7B foe Thompson Falls, a team that has beaten Bigfork twice already. That semifinal will be played at 8 p.m. on Friday. Anaconda, meanwhile, will take on Deer Lodge in a loser-out game at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
"We definitely wanted to have another shot at them," Bigfork coach Cortnee Gunlock said. "We've played them twice and its definitely been closer games than the scores have showed at the end so we're excited to have another shot at it."
Thompson Falls 50, Deer Lodge 33
The Bluehawks were challenged early by the Wardens but ultimately went on to prevail 50-33 and punched their ticket to the semifinals.
Megan Baxter scored 19 points to lead the Bluehawks to the win. Jody Detlaff added 11 points and Ellie Pardee scored 10.
"I think it was really fun. This is the first win we've had in a while at divisionals," Baxter said. "We just really played as a family as we've been preaching this entire year and I thought it was really fun just getting to play another game with our teammates."
Deer Lodge got two late 3-pointers to go to end the first quarter and make it a 13-12 Thompson Falls lead. But from there the Bluehawks took over, leading 26-15 by halftime and 40-25 at the end of the third.
Baxter was everywhere, cleaning up offensive rebounds for putbacks while teammates also found her with nice passes under the basket as her presence made life difficult in the post for the Wardens.
"Once we got our defense going I think that really was a little spark for us," Baxter said. "I think that just by us getting steals and getting a little bit of hype up that we were just able to be like ok we can slow this down now and do what we know how to do."
Rachel Nicholson led Deer Lodge (3-19) with 12 points. Thompson Falls (17-4) has flown a bit under the radar this season with their record, but they've had a simple philosophy when it comes to how they approach each game.
"The main thing is we just want to continue to push our girls to be relentless," Thompson Falls coach Chad Laws said. "Make plays on defense, rebound, run the floor. Next thing is we want to make sure we love each other on the court and play together and be a great team together."
Florence 53, Eureka 52, OT
Kasidy Yeoman went coast-to-coast in the final 10 seconds and scored a left-handed layup to give the Florence Falcons a 53-52 win in overtime over Eureka.
Yeoman's basket came just moments after Eureka inbounded the ball with 16 seconds remaining and Katie Schmidt scored on a floater to give the Lions the brief lead.
"I was really scared, I know my team has struggled with people not thinking that we're going to make it to state," Yeoman, a sophomore, said. "All I wanted to do was make sure we had a chance at state. I just wanted to push (the ball) and I knew that I'd get it in and I just went for it. It was amazing. I don't even know how to explain it."
Florence was forced to come back all game and trailed by seven points with just over one minute left in the game. But down five, Florence pressed and Yeoman got a steal and converted a layup while being fouled for the Falcons. She knocked down the free throw to make it a two-point game with 36.1 seconds left.
Then after another steal, Emma Stensrud knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 45-45 with 28.6 seconds left. Eureka was unable to convert on the other end which sent the game into overtime.
"The one thing I can say about those girls is they play hard," Florence coach Duane Zeiler said. "They give it 100 percent if they're down by 10 or up by 20. That last play we told them we're out of timeouts and they just have to attack the basket and they did what they were supposed to."
Yeoman led Florence (13-8) with 20 points while Stensrud added 11. Reena Truman scored 13 points to lead Eureka (14-7).
Florence will play Loyola at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in the semifinal round. Eureka will take on St. Ignatius at noon in a loser-out game.
Loyola 75, St. Ignatius 35
The Loyola Breakers opened the girls Western B Divisional with a bang, beating St. Ignatius 75-38 to improve to 21-0 on the season.
Syd Koppang led Loyola with 19 points while Kelsey Esh and Natalie Clevenger each tallied 13 for the Breakers. Karolyna Buck scored 12 points to pace the Bulldogs (8-13).
"The girls were relaxed and ready to go," Loyola coach Travis Walker said. "When we're relaxed and smiling, good things happen and that's the way the game should be played and things take care of themselves."
Loyola started out quickly with a 20-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 35-11 advantage at halftime. Sophomore Lani Walker, Loyola's leading scorer who has missed the past few weeks with a knee injury, did not start but played and scored five points.
Travis Walker said the Breakers approach each game with a "one game at a time" mentality and that has helped the team avoid complacency through this undefeated run.
"This was really exciting just after this long season putting it all together," Esh said. "It's really exciting to be a part of something like this."