High School Sports


Reigning champ Roy-Winifred building a Class C girls basketball powerhouse

Posted at 5:18 PM, Mar 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 22:50:49-05

GREAT FALLS — The Roy-Winifred girls have ended their recent seasons with hardware more often than not.

After defeating Fort Benton in this years Northern C tournament championship game, they claimed their fourth divisional title in the last five years. Attempting to add to that track record, they will be chasing a third title game appearance in a four-season stretch. Head coach Maury Elness is accustomed to the winning but the feeling never gets old.

“It’s sweet every time we do it,” said Elness. “I feel like we are experienced but every time we do it, it’s a new group of girls essentially. Some returners, some new kids and its awesome.”

Junior guard Laynee Elness and junior forward Isabelle Heggem have been the backbone of this team for most of the current season. During the Northern C tournament, Elness was consistent with her scoring as she averaged 15 points per game. But the team-high in scoring came from Heggem as she put up over 20 per game, including a 27-point performance in the championship.

“They’ve had a lot of experience so they are good leaders,” said Elness. “The two of them work well together but then add the other ones in there and we have great team chemistry.”

An off-court bond can bring a team tons of success on the court. It is preached by numerous basketball coaches around the world that team camaraderie can help in game situations because you are more liable to trust your teammates in big moments. The Outlaws have bought into becoming a team and sharing a sisterhood.

“We spend so much time together as teammates and as friends,” said Heggem. “Roy-Winifred is a small school so we are always doing things together. It’s really special to share all these championships with our teammates.”

As special as it is for a player to share championship memories with their teammates or coaches, it is even more special for a coach and player to share it as a mother and daughter. Laynee understands it’s not always easy playing for a parent, but they have found ways to make it work.

“We’re a lot alike and both pretty strongly opinionated,” said Laynee. “We butt heads a lot but it always works out in the end.”

As much as they try to keep basketball on the court, it seems to follow them home from time to time in Laynee’s opinion.

“It definitely goes home with us. We definitely talk a lot of basketball at home but we always hash it out,” said Laynee.

But from coach’s perspective, it’s not as much as her daughter would think.

“Honestly we hardly even talk basketball at home. If she brings it up, we’ll talk about it but for the most part we just let it go. She hears me enough during practice,” said Elness.

Somehow the two have made it work and got the rest of the team to jump on the same page in order to be successful. The Outlaws will begin to defend their state title as they face one-loss Plentywood on Wednesday in the first round.