BOX ELDER 57, BELT 52
In each of the past two seasons, the Belt girls have derailed the state title hopes of Box Elder. In 2016 it was in the state championship, in 2017 it was a last second loss in the Northern C semifinals.
So Friday night when the clock struck zero in Box Elder’s 57-52 win over the two-time defending Class C champs in the divisional semifinal, did it feel like redemption?
“I never thought of it like that,” said Bears coach Joel Rosette. “But I’ve always thought if you want to be the champs, you got to beat the champs. That’s what it was, it was a challenge. We went out there and we did it.”
Box Elder led the majority of the game, but never managed to build a safe lead. Dani Urick led the charge for the Huskies, scoring a game high 21 points and keying several runs that kept Belt within striking distance.
But it was Box Elder’s stars that came up big when it counted. Junior guard Lilly Gopher scored a team high 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Centerville transfer Cecilia Vielle dominated the paint with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Gopher wasn’t quite as magnanimous about the win as her coach. The losses to Belt as a freshman and sophomore had been on her mind all year long.
“I just feel so great – so proud of my teammates,” she said. “This is really what we’ve been preparing ourselves for is this game. It is really special, I’ve lost to them the last two years, my freshman and sophomore year. But this year, we really stepped up and played our game.”
The win is big, on coach Rosette’s 30th birthday, no less. But it’s not an end – it’s a step toward the ultimate goal of a state championship. Saturday night Box Elder will face Winnett-Grass Range in the Northern C final with an automatic berth to state on the line.
“Finish,” Rosette said of the mindset. “We’re going to come out and play as hard as we can. We try to do that every game, so we’re excited to be in the championship game. Northern C is the toughest division there is.”
Belt will face District 9C champion Fort Benton in loser out action Saturday morning with the winner advancing to the consolation final and hoping for a challenge game.
WINNETT-GRASS RANGE 46, HOBSON-MOORE-JUDITH GAP 36
The Winnett-Grass Range girls advanced to the Northern C championship game Friday evening with a 46-36 semifinal win over District 8C rival Tri-City.
Brynn Jolma and Syndey Browning led the way for the Rams with 11 points apiece, as WGR moves on to face Box Elder in Saturday’s final.
Brianna Bergum led the Titans with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Tri-City will face the Turner Tornadoes in loser out action Saturday morning with the winner advancing to the Consolation semi-final at 6:30 p.m., and hoping for a challenge game scenario to advance to state.