BOX ELDER — The Box Elder girls have been among the best teams in the state the past few years, advancing to the state title game in 2016 and pushing eventual Class C champion Belt to the brink at the Northern C tournament in February. But both times they came up just short.
In the offseason they added a piece, which could make them stronger than ever.
After three years starring for Centerville, all-state forward Cecilia Vielle transferred to Box Elder over the summer. The Lady Bears have always had solid guards, but Vielle’s addition gives them an inside presence, which makes an already dangerous team deadly.
“To have a big girl that can go get buckets for you when you need them, any time you can add that with a bunch of talented guards, that’s a positive,” said head coach Joel Rosette.
With the Miners, Vielle advanced to the Northern C divisional tournament only once in her first three years. Now being on a team with state-title aspirations is a dream come true.
“Looking at this team, and seeing how hard they work, I wanted to be a part of that,” she said. “They’re a hard-working team that was focused, and all had the same goal in mind.”
For the transfer players, the adjustment to a new team can sometimes be difficult. But not for Vielle. She’s teamed up with several Box Elder standouts in summer tournaments for the past four years. She and junior all-state guard Lilly Gopher were on the MT Native Elite traveling team together and recently claimed a championship at the Fall Ball Classic in Bozeman.
“She’s like my sister,” Gopher said of Vielle. “I have a lot of chemistry with her. We’ve been playing together in the offseason for four years. For her to come here is a great present to us.”
For her part, Vielle didn’t want to upset the balance of a team that has seen so much success, and it’s worked out so far. The Lady Bears are 7-0 entering the weekend and Vielle leads the team in rebounding and is second in scoring behind Gopher.
“I came in here knowing I had no guarantee of a starting spot,” Vielle said. “I knew I had to work for everything that I earned, so I came in early mornings and worked. Joel helped me improve my ball handling, shooting, post moves and scoring, hustle plays, doing it all.”
Vielle, Gopher and the rest of the talented Lady Bears are again among the favorites in Class C. Even though the past two years have represented the most successful stretch in school history, they’re far from satisfied.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted,” Rosette said of the disappointment at the Northern C. “We always want a happy ending and to be a happy ending, you want it to be the last game. To get out of the Northern C, you have to beat Belt. We know that, and that’s something all of our girls were aware of. To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
“I hate losing,” she said plainly. “My freshman and sophomore year we came up short and I’m just tired of it.”