MISSOULA — Heather Wilson is no stranger to big shots.
The 5-foot-3 senior banked in the game-winning 3-pointer in Three Forks’ come-from-behind win at District 5B rival at Townsend in early January. She added another big shot to her resume at Dahlberg Arena on Friday.
With the undefeated Wolves nursing a two-point, fourth-quarter lead, Wilson knocked down a corner 3 that sparked Three Forks to a 52-45 win over Bigfork in a State B girls basketball semifinal game.
“I just do it. Honestly, I just do it,” Wilson said bluntly of taking big shots. “When (the opposing defense is) all over Shainy (Mack) and Kyle (Olson) and I’m wide open, they don’t expect it from me.”
Mack and Olson, the Wolves’ star backcourt, were held relatively quiet on Friday, so it was the supporting cast that blew open the game late in the fourth quarter with five quick points.
On the possession after Wilson’s 3, Kendall Lynn scored off an offensive rebound to give Three Forks a 48-40 lead with 2:05 to play. It was the Wolves’ largest lead of the game to that point, but they grew it to 10 points moments later and salted away the win to advance to Saturday’s championship game against Colstrip.
“They wouldn’t be on the floor if I didn’t have confidence in them,” Three Forks head coach Mike Sauvageau said of his role players. “They’re full-blown players for us, and that’s why we’ve been able to go to this next level. If we get in foul trouble with Morgan (Allen), Kyle got in foul trouble (Friday), they stepped in and did a great job for us. They always talk about the old (saying), ‘Team wins.’ The last three games we’ve had, the team has stepped up.”
Three Forks’ trio of Mack (10 points), Olson (nine) and Allen (seven) combined to score 26 points. Wilson added nine, Paeton Ohs eight and Lynn six. Allen and Olson also had game-highs of 12 rebounds and six steals, respectively.
“If you would’ve told me we would win the game with Kyle and Shainy scoring what they did and (the team) scoring 50-some points, I would’ve thought, ‘There’s no way we would get to 50-something,'” Sauvageau said. “What a team effort. Great defense. We found a way to win.”
The Wolves’ defense limited Bigfork to just 28.6 percent (16 of 56) from the field and 11.1 percent (2 of 18) from 3-point range. The Valkyries were led by Abigail Lembke’s 12 points. Jaime Berg, who recently signed to play collegiately at Montana Tech, had six points, 10 rebounds and four steals in the loss.
Bigfork will now face Deer Lodge in a loser-out game at 9 a.m. Saturday at Missoula Sentinel High School. The Wardens extended their season with a 52-39 win over Rocky Boy on Friday.
Three Forks, which won the third-place trophy at last year’s state tournament, will face a Southern B foe for the championship at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It feels great. Last year we went in kind of the darkhorse, no one really knew who we were, and we ended up getting third at state,” Wilson said. “And we only lost two seniors, so we were like, ‘We can do this. We’re coming back.’”
“These girls believe in it. They’ve believed since last year. I’ve been a little bit skeptical trying to keep them grounded, but I think they believed they could get back here,” Sauvageau said. “You can see how they play. The last four minutes, they just find that extra gear.”
Colstrip 47, Townsend 40
Shelby Jordan had a double-double of 22 points and 14 rebounds to help Colstrip to a 47-40 win over Townsend in a semifinal game of the Class B girls basketball state tournament at Dahlberg Arena on Friday.
Colstrip built a 10-7 lead after the first quarter and a 24-15 lead at halftime and kept the Bulldogs at bay the rest of the way. The Fillies led by as many as 12 points in the third and then held off Townsend’s comeback attempt in the fourth. The Bulldogs got within four points, but it was too little too late.
The Fillies’ defense forced only 14 turnovers but disrupted Townsend into a 14-of-51 shooting performance, including a 2-of-18 mark from 3-point range. The Bulldogs also made just 10 of 28 free throw attempts.
“We put a lot of pressure on their guards. We try to make them go in the direction that we want them to go, so they get out of their own rhythm,” Colstrip coach Roxie Wilson said. “We try really hard to put pressure on the ball and make sure we know our assignments.”
Amaya LaFranier had another big game for Colstrip, totaling 18 points (on 6-of-11 shooting), six rebounds, two assists and three steals. The Fillies will now meet Three Forks in the state championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Tavia Rooney led Townsend with 12 points and 16 rebounds, bringing her two-game total to 38 rebounds at the state tournament. The Bulldogs will play Poplar, which defeated St. Labre in a Friday loser-out game, at 9 a.m. Saturday. The winner will advance to the consolation final.
Colstrip has lost just two games all season, once to Class A Glendive and once to Three Forks. The Wolves defeated the Fillies 63-44 in the Southern B divisional championship game.
“When we did our pregame (for the Southern B divisional championship), I told them, ‘It’s a win-win situation, you’re going to state. You get to state, you make sure you do what you’re supposed to, get to the championship and we’ll face them again,'” Wilson said. “That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to face Three Forks again, they’re a good team. They had that mindset all week, and they worked really hard in practice, they ran their conditioning hard, they were focused this entire weekend.”