MISSOULA — Shainy Mack came up big when it mattered most.
After two lackluster games — by her standards — the Three Forks senior poured in 21 points, making 10 of 14 free throw attempts, to help lead the Wolves to their first Class B girls basketball state championship since 1979. Three Forks held on for 57-48 win over Colstrip, capping an undefeated season.
“We just had to relax and play our game (Saturday),” Mack said. “We knew what Colstrip was going to do, and we just tried to use that to our advantage having played them before.”
Three Forks defeated Colstrip 63-44 in the Southern B divisional championship last week, but Saturday’s state title tilt was much closer. The Wolves built a 15-9 lead by the end of the first quarter thanks to seven first-quarter points from Morgan Allen.
Colstrip, though, held the Wolves without a point for nearly four minutes in the second quarter to close back within two. Mack, Allen and Kyle Olson combined to go on a 9-0 run to close out the half and build the lead back up to 26-15.
“”We wanted to move the ball and really work together, push the ball up the floor, so we could break their press,” Olson said.
Three Forks looked well on its way to running away with another double-digit victory and the state title in the third quarter, opening up a 35-22 lead on a three-point play from Mack midway through the third quarter.
The Wolves hit another skid to start the fourth quarter, though, as the Fillies outscored the Wolves 13-3 over the first four minutes of the final frame. Sossity Spotted Wolf brought Colstrip back within 42-41 with 3:50 to play.
But Mack and Olson answered again.
The duo combined to score the Wolves’ final 15 points, making 13 of 15 attempts from the free throw line.
“We both have off games, and it’s nice when we have each other,” said Olson, who finished with 21 points and 10 steals. “When I have off an off game, she has a good game. And when she has an off game, I have a good game, so it’s nice that we can work opposite. But I like when we do well together.”
The third piece to Three Forks’ star trio, Allen, finished with nine points. Colstrip got 12 points from Amaya LaFranier and 10 points and 10 rebounds from Shelby Jordan. The Fillies, though, made just 18 of 52 (34.6 percent) shots from the floor.
Three Forks was 13 of 33 shooting and 27 of 36 from the free throw line as Colstrip battled foul trouble all game. The Fillies had 28 fouls compared to 13 for the Wolves. Sixteen of Three Forks’ 18 fourth-quarter points came from the foul line, as the put the finishing touches on their perfect season.
“I think there was always pressure, especially on this last game, because we wanted to make it perfect,” Olson said. “It’s nice that it worked out. It’s amazing.”
“It definitely took guts and it came from the heart. I think we all have that,” she added.
Said Mack: “It means so much. The last weekend, we were like, ‘We’ve got to get one. We’ve got to get one. It’s been so long. It’s been so long.’ We’re just so happy it’s finally happened.”