HAMILTON — The Frenchtown girls basketball team has been facing an uphill climb all season. After a rocky start, the Broncs were able to get back on track, putting together a magical run at the Southwestern A district tournament.
“We’ve been working really hard to get back in. We started 0-4, 2-6 and it’s been an uphill climb, but we have found a rhythm,” said Frenchtown coach Jim Tolman. “We have found a rhythm that the girls believe in and they believe in each other and we are playing really, really good team basketball right now.”
After the sluggish start, the Broncs finished the season at 9-9 and 5-5 in conference play. But it’s when the tournament started that they really found themselves.
“We came in here with a (No. 4) seed and we knew it was going to be so tough, but we just battled so hard and I’m so proud of this entire team,” said senior Megan Delaney.
The tournament started out in a slugfest with fifth-seeded Corvallis, but Frenchtown took care of business with a 30-20 win.
Most assumed that would be it for Frenchtown, as the Broncs next faced top-seeded Hamilton, which entered the tournament with only one loss on the season at 17-1 and unscathed in conference play.
But Frenchtown hung with Hamilton in both regular-season matchups and then pulled the upset almost nobody expected, 49-41, in the semifinal round.
In the district championship, Frenchtown faced a team on a run of its own. The Dillon Beavers came in after impressive wins against Stevensville and Butte Central, but Frenchtown prevailed in a hard-fought game.
But can the Broncs keep it going?
“Just keep doing the same thing. We can do it. The competition’s tough over there (at the Western A divisional tournament), but we can do the same thing all over again,” said senior Kylie Willett.
But for these seniors, they know the end is near, and they want the ride to last just a little longer.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. Going out last year, last chance and I just wanted to go out big, so it feels good. It feels kind of sad, though. I don’t want to leave my teammates and my seniors,” said senior Alivia Williams.
As for Tolman, he thinks this team has what it takes to go all the way.
“We’re going into divisionals feeling very, very confident, and we like what we’re doing,” Tolman said. “And we’re just going out to play our game and not worry about what anyone else does or thinks about us.”
Frenchtown will face Ronan in the first round of the divisional tournament in Butte on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.