BUTTE — Lillian Gopher wasn’t going to let a state championship slip through Box Elder’s fingers. The junior guard guided the Bears to their first State C girls basketball championship in 20 years on Saturday, defeating Northern C rival Winnett-Grass Range 52-34. Monday afternoon, Gopher was named the most valuable player of the tournament, according to media, courtside officials and statisticians.
Gopher scored a team-high 13 points in Saturday’s championship, despite sitting due to foul trouble. She finished the game with 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, pacing Box Elder to its first state title since 1998. Gopher averaged 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 steals in the Bears’ three-game run at the Butte Civic Center.
All but three voters selected the Box Elder star as tournament MVP. Teammate Cecilia Vielle earned one MVP vote, while Twin Bridges’ standout Kailee Oliverson picked up the other two MVP votes.
Vielle had 10 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s championship, while adding one assist and a block in the win over Winnett-Grass Range. The transfer from Centerville added 14 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in Friday’s semifinal win over Froid-Lake, and scored nine points to go with five rebounds in the opening round win over Twin Bridges.
Oliverson scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had four blocks and three steals in Thursday’s loss to the Bears.
The State C girls basketball all-tournament team can be found below. ButteSports.com tallied the results.
2017-2018 State C girls basketball
Lillian Gopher, Jr., Box Elder (MVP)
Kailee Oliverson, Sr., Twin Bridges
Cecilia Viele, Sr., Box Elder
Morgan Mason, Sr., Froid-Lake
Piper Johnson, Sr., Winnett-Grass Range
Mackenzie Dethman, Jr., Froid-Lake
RaeAnne Bendon, Sr., Twin Bridges
Sydney Dethman, Fr., Froid-Lake
Brynn Jolma, Jr., Winnett-Grass Range
Sydney Browning, Jr., Winnett-Grass Range
Honorable mention (listed alphabetically)
Nikayla Anderson, Box Elder
Mariah Dietrich, Harlowton
Josie Hokanson, Ennis
Whitney McKitrick, Ennis
Joelnell Momberg, Box Elder
Brenna Osksa, Plentywood
Tawnee Robertson, Froid-Lake
Taylor Stahl, Winnett-Grass Range
Hallie Wangerin, Plentywood
Liv Wangerin, Plentywood
Madison Wasson, Harlowton
Maddie Wolf Chief, Box Elder