BELGRADE — Moments after the final buzzer sounded on Wolf Point’s 48-35 win over Florence in the Class B girls basketball state championship Saturday, Imani and Mary Bighorn embraced in a long hug on the court at the Belgrade Special Events Center.
The sisters had a dominant performance against Florence, helping the Wolves win their first state championship since 2003.
“Oh my gosh, my twin sister, me and Mary, I’m so happy I got to play with her this last year,” said Imani Bighorn, fighting back tears. “It just means everything to me, I just love her so much.”
After spending last season at Poplar, Imani Bighorn transferred back to Wolf Point to finish out her high school career with her sister. With that duo leading the way, the Wolves used their decided size advantage Saturday and clamped down the Falcons.
Imani Bighorn, who will no doubt earn tournament MVP honors, had a monster game of 19 points and 14 rebounds. The stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story, though, as she altered shots on one end of the floor and forced Florence into foul trouble on the other.
“Just solid. Just a great basketball player, great person,” Wolf Point coach Cody Larson said of Imani Bighorn. “These girls came together. At times it looks like through the season we struggled, but we got to struggle a little bit to get back to the top, and that’s what we did.”
The Wolves didn’t struggle much on Saturday. They briefly trailed in the first quarter, but the Bighorn sisters combined for an 8-0 run to close out the quarter and take a 10-5 lead after the first eight minutes.
Florence would get within two in the second quarter but never retake the lead as Wolf Point controlled the game the rest of the way. The Wolves led 21-14 at halftime and grew the lead to double digits in the third quarter and led by 14 going to the fourth.
As dominant as Imani Bighorn was on the offensive end for the Wolves, Semarah Wells matched it on the other end. The 5-foot-7 senior harassed Florence standout Danielle Zahn all night, limiting the Falcons’ spark plug to 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting.
“Semarah Wells, she’s been a staple in Wolf Point forever, and she just locked down a great player (Saturday),” Larson said. “These girls have been playing defense for a long time. Boy, it showed (Saturday). Pretty cool.”
Mya Fourstar, the uber-talented transfer from Class C Frazer, didn’t have her best night shooting Saturday, finishing with just eight points, but she contributed in other ways — defense, ball-handling and decision-making, the staples of a true point guard.
When Fourstar joined the program in the offseason — along with Imani Bighorn — expectations went through the roof for this Wolf Point team. With the weight of those expectations finally lifted with the raising of the championship trophy, a raucous celebration started.
“Oh my goodness, this means so much to me,” Imani Bighorn said. “Me and all five seniors have been playing together for 10 years now. We’ve been working for this our whole lives. I’ve done everything I could. Me and Mya are both new to the team, we jelled together, we worked our (butts) off to get here. I’m just so happy, I just can’t believe it.”
Mary Bighorn finished with nine points, Abby Juve added seven and Wells had five, including a big 3-pointer in the second half. In addition to Zahn’s 12 points, Florence got eight from Rilee Mangun, seven from Makenna Miles and six from Emma Stensrud. The Falcons shot just 12 of 48 (25 percent) as a team.
“Holy smokes, this is great. This is great for the kids, great for our assistant coaches, great for the town of Wolf Point,” Larson said. “We have a sign up in our gym that says, ‘Who’s next?’ And the 2019 Lady Wolves just did it.”