GREAT FALLS — Once you find championship greatness, the next challenge is maintaining it. That’s what the Box Elder Lady Bears basketball team is focused on.
The team finally captured the school’s first girls state title in 20 years last season. With the majority of the team back this time around, including Lilly Gopher and Joelnell Momberg, the odds are high that Box Elder will make another title run this year.
“We’re actually really excited, you can tell in practice,” said Gopher, a senior. “How every drill goes, how everyone’s going hard and giving it their all every single day, I just can tell it’s going to be an amazing season.”
Even state champions face challenges. The Lady Bears will be a smaller team this season with 6-foot, 3-inch Cecilia Vielle now graduated. Box Elder will look to evolve around a smaller lineup and not buy into the hype this season, just portray all that hard work on the floor.
“You can’t win a state championship in December, so you’ve got to work for it. We can’t buy into it, we’ve got to let our hard work show,” said senior Eve The Boy.
“We’ve got to box out more and run the floor more. Just straight box out and rebound, that’s our main focus for the 5-10 and under roster we have,” said Gopher.
It’s amazing how tightly bonded this group is, making for smoother practices and play on the hardwood. These girls are committed to something bigger than themselves.
“It’s like a family feeling. Even in the offseason, we’re like family, like sisters. Everyone talks to everybody, we’re all friends, that brings us closer on the court,” said Momberg, a senior. “We know where everyone is at, we’re there to pick each other up. It makes it fun every day because we’re out there cracking jokes each day.”
“They just all want to be on the floor, be excelling and be a part of a team. We talk about it a lot and they just love being a part of this team and being a part of Lady Bear basketball,” said head coach Joel Rosette. “I think they’re playing for each other, as well as with purpose. I think a lot of those combinations of things bring it together for Lady Bear basketball.”
The Lady Bears begin the season on Dec. 6 against Harlem in Havre.