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Western B girls: Bigfork, Loyola set for title match

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Posted at 11:28 PM, Feb 28, 2020

HAMILTON -- Friday featured the semifinal round at the girls Western B Divisional basketball tournament at Hamilton High School. Check out the recaps below to see who will advance to the championship game with a spot at the State B tournament in Butte on the line.

Bigfork 47, Thompson Falls 46

Isabella Santistevan knocked down a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left and Bigfork held on to upset Thompson Falls 47-46 in the final game of the day to advance to the Western B championship game.

Santistevan led Bigfork (14-8) with 10 points while Zoey Albert and Scout Nadeau each added nine points in the win.

The semifinal was back and forth all game, but Thompson Falls junior Jody Detlaff scored on a jumper with 56 seconds to play to make it 44-43 Bluehawks lead. But Bigfork senior Ansleigh Edgerton answered quickly with a layup to give the Valkyries the lead.

Thompson Falls would miss a shot attempt a couple possessions later and Santistevan was fouled on the rebound which led to the free throws.

"I was definitely shaking, the nerves were there," Santistevan, a senior, said. "But I'm really glad that they went in. I knew that we had to make them to win the game."

Santistevan said she'd never been in a situation like that before, but focused on staying relaxed before converting them for the Valkyries.

"My mind was pretty clear, just tried to treat it like any other free throw," she said.

"We just had to do some little things better, like rebound, and I thought we did," Bigfork coach Cortnee Gunlock said. "We didn't let them beat us from the inside tonight. Our gameplan was if they're going to beat us it's going to be from the outside, because both times they beat us, it was from the inside."

Thompson Falls beat Bigfork in both of their regular-season meetings before Friday night. The Valkyries will be tasked with a similar situation on Saturday in the finale when they take on the Loyola Breakers. Loyola beat Bigfork twice this season too.

Detlaff led Thompson Falls, the District 7B champions, with 13 points. The Bluehawks (17-5) will play Eureka in a loser-out game at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Loyola and Bigfork will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in the championship.

Loyola 35, Florence 34

The Loyola Breakers survived a late scare and rally from the Florence Falcons on Friday night to keep their perfect record intact with a 35-34 win in the first girls semifinal of the night.

The Breakers improved to 22-0 with the victory.

Senior Syd Koppang knocked down a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter to give the Breakers a 29-26 lead. But Florence senior Emma Stensrud answered before the buzzer to make it 29-all heading into the final quarter.

Loyola sophomore Lani Walker came right out of the gates in the fourth quarter to bury a three of her own, and after both teams were struggling to score, Loyola went into a stall that took up almost three minutes of game time. Up 33-29, the Breakers began holding the ball with over four minutes to play, attempted a shot, but got the offensive rebound and passed the ball around until Florence deflected a pass out of bounds and called timeout with 1:50 to go. Loyola coach Travis Walker said the stall was to try and bring Florence out of its 2-3 zone which would allow the Breakers to run their offense effectively.

Koppang then found senior Sam Clevenger for an easy layup that put Loyola up 35-30 with 50 seconds to play. Florence sophomore Kasidy Yeoman, who scored the game-winner on Thursday for the Falcons, hit a half-court shot at the buzzer but Loyola's two-possession lead gave it the win.

"I think (the win) gives us a lot of confidence because we really haven't had to battle in a game like this," Clevenger said. "It was a lot of firsts for us tonight and I think it was good to get that out of our system."

Koppang led Loyola with 10 while Clevenger added nine. Yeoman led Florence (13-9) with 10.

"It just shows all of our team's resolve and their grit," Walker said. "It wasn't our smoothest game we've played all year but we definitely showed a lot of heart on our end to dig in and luckily make more than one play at the end."

Florence will play Anaconda in a loser-out game on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.