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For the people: Box Elder boys bring Class C state title back to the community

Posted at 5:28 PM, Mar 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-12 19:43:19-04

GREAT FALLS — Last Saturday, the Box Elder boys basketball team completed a perfect 26-0 season and captured the program's fourth state title.

It’s the first title for the program since 2016, which featured current assistant coach Brandon The Boy.

“It feels great, you know? We’ve really been focused on getting the community back with this state championship,” said junior guard Tracen Jilot. “It’s been almost ten years since that’s happened and this is just for the people.”

The Bears took down two-time defending champion Manhattan Christian in a thrilling title game that came down to the final minutes. They were led by Jilot, who stuffed the stat sheet from top to bottom, finishing with 34 points, six steals, five assists and four rebounds.

After a performance like that, head coach Jeremy MacDonald gave him high praise.

“That’s one of the all-time great championship performances. Tracen is a great basketball player. I’ve never seen a guy put the ball in the hoop the way he does. He’s our leader,” said MacDonald. “I can’t say enough good things about Tracen Jilot. He’s an amazing basketball player and I’m lucky to coach him.”

Jilot was the star for a big portion of the game, but his counterpart, Tuarie Stiffarm-Rosette, stepped up late in the fourth to help lift the Bears to victory.

Inside of three minutes to play, Box Elder led 55-53 and Stiffarm-Rosette knocked down a corner 3 to give the Bears a five-point lead. A minute later he scored in the post and that put them ahead 62-54.

“I’ve been taking those shots in the gym since I was maybe 6 years old. I’ve been working on those shots forever so it comes easy in the game,” said Stiffarm-Rosette.

The Bears accomplished their goal in front of thousands of fans at the Four Season Arena. A majority of the seats were occupied by Box Elder fans, giving the appearance that nearly the entire community showed up to support its basketball team.

“Our community loves basketball. We talk about how basketball is kind of a modern day warrior for us. We represent that tradition well,” said MacDonald. “I think our community is proud of us, I think we made a lot of people happy. Our ancestors are looking down on us smiling. That feels great.”

The Bears are only losing one senior after this school year, and will bring back a strong core which includes the starting five. Next year they will have an opportunity to do something that has never been done in their program’s history, win back-to-back titles.