BUTTE — Teaira Truman hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds to send Charlo and Arlee into overtime, where the Vikings would prevail 60-55 for the Western C girls basketball championship.
Trailing 50-47 with less than 10 seconds to play, Charlo coach Bret Thompson called a timeout to set up a baseline-out-of-bounds play under the Vikings basket. Truman set a screen in front of the Charlo bench, then rolled to the wing, caught the ball and calmly sank it through the nylon.
Arlee’s effort at a game winner was no good, sending the game into overtime.
“Thompson just said, ‘Hit it,’ and I hit it. That was fun,” said Truman, who finished with a team-high 15 points to go with her seven rebounds. “It was huge. We knew they were in foul trouble and thought we could outlast them.”
Arlee appeared to have the game in hand, leading 29-17 at halftime and up 14 in the third quarter. But the Vikings ended the period on a 14-0 run, tying the game heading into the final stanza.
Following a Truman 3-pointer with 1:20 left to bring Charlo within 46-44, Alyssia Vanderburg hit a jump shot for the Scarlets to extend their lead to four, then Louetta Conko-Camel hit one of two free throws to push the lead to 49-44. But Carlee Fryberger hit her lone 3-pointer to trim the lead to two.
Conko-Camel was fouled in the final 30 seconds but made only one free throw to keep the lead at three, 50-47. Enter Truman.
It was the latest moment in a special season for the Vikings, who said they believed when others doubted.
“I think we’re all pretty excited. We didn’t know how this season was going to go, but we’re really happy to be where we are,” said guard Destiny Manuel.
“We never give up. We’ve fought together for our four years together, so it’s amazing,” said Truman. “Everyone doubted us, so it was fun to play our style, play our own game and trust ourselves to get here.”
“Funny story, earlier (Saturday) I was sitting in the athletic room and we heard some girls walking by saying, ‘Charlo isn’t even that good,’ so that gave us a little more edge to get through this game,” added Manuel.
Manuel gave Charlo the lead in the final minute of overtime, an advantage the Vikings wouldn’t relinquish. After Vanderburg fouled Manuel, her fourth personal, she picked up a technical foul, her fifth, and headed to the bench, sending Manuel to the line to stare down four free throws.
“It was quite nerve-racking, but I just took a few deep breaths and worked my way through it,” said Manuel. “I knew my team was behind me to back me throughout it all.”
Manuel went 3 for 4 from the line, giving Charlo a 54-53 lead, and the Vikings went 6-6 down the stretch to secure the win. Manuel finished with six points, the biggest four in the final minutes of overtime, and five rebounds. Liev Smith added 13 points and Kaitlin Cox had 12 and nine rebounds in the win.
Carlee Fryberger had 10 points for the Vikings, who advance to the State C tournament in Great Falls next weekend.
Vanderburg led Arlee with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Conko-Camel chipped in with 18 points.
The two teams combined for 51 fouls, with Arlee going 18 for 31 from the free throw line, while Charlo made 24 of 46.
Ennis 45, Manhattan Christian 23, consolation
Whitney McKitrick exploded for 26 points, gathered eight rebounds, had four steals and a pair of assists as Ennis defeated Manhattan Christian 45-23 in the Western C consolation game Saturday.
“Whitney McKitrick, she’s a stud. That bomb she hit in the second quarter, that really got her rolling. She was probably 28, 30 feet out there,” said Ennis coach Jordan Overstreet. “After she hit those two 3s, she was able to ball fake and get to the rim at will. Whitney, she’s just a senior that wanted to step up and didn’t want her season to be over.”
McKitrick’s 3-pointer was from no-man’s land, an attempt she shot with confidence, one that brought the Mustangs crowd to its feet when it swished through the net.
It was one of many things that went the Mustangs’ way Saturday night, as Ennis used an 18-0 run in the second quarter to jump to a 25-7 lead at halftime. Manhattan Christian was 2-of-18 shooting in the first half, and made only seven field goals in the contest.
“The biggest thing is the defensive effort, that set the tone from the start,” said Overstreet. “They hit two tough 3s to start the game, they got the lead there, but after we settled in and chased (Taylor) Devries off the 3-point line, we were pretty solid defensively.”
Ennis also dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle 47-30, setting up second-chance points and numerous opportunities.
Jourdain Klein finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Jenna Snider and Landir Paldichuk combined for the other four points for the Mustangs.
Taylor Devries led led Manhattan Christian with six points, while Jill Frye and Kiersten VanKirk had four points each in the loss.
As time waned in the final quarter, Overstreet cleared his bench and hugged every starter, particularly embracing his seniors after an impressive outing.
“As a coach, that’s a tough moment. Especially, this is my fourth year and that was my first group of freshmen that became seniors, and they have done everything I’ve asked from summer ball to workouts. I’m not the easiest coach to deal with, everybody knows that. I’m pretty loud, I’m pretty obnoxious, but these girls do everything I’ve asked,” said Overstreet. “If that’s their last game, it was a pretty awesome season going 20-4 and only losing to one Class C school (Arlee). That would be a bummer not to make the state tournament, but if that was their last game, I’m sure as heck proud of those guys.”