By Bruce Sayler
Champion Box Elder not only led the field in the state Class C high school girls’ basketball tournament held over the weekend in the Butte Civic Center, but also the all-tournament team voting with two first-team picks.
Led by 5-foot-10 junior point guard Lillian Gopher, the Bears saw five of its title team members receive all-tournament votes. Gopher, the tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP), was joined on the first team by 6-3 senior teammate Cecilia Vielle.
Nikayla Anderson, JoelNell Momberg and Maddie Wolf Chief also received votes as Box Elder team members and were accorded all-tournament honorable mention.
The championship game, which saw Box Elder defeat Winnett/Grass Range 52-34 Saturday night, saw Gopher score a team-high 13 points, grab four rebounds, dish two assists and come up with two steals in leading the victory. Her averages for the Bears over the three games of the tournament were 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 steals. Gopher was picked the MVP on all but three ballots submitted from the courtside officials and statisticians, and the media members covering the tournament. Twin Bridges standout Kailee Oliverson received two MVP votes and Vielle was chosen the MVP on one ballot.
Oliverson is a 6-3 senior who has signed to continue her basketball career at Nevada of the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference. Twin Bridges placed fourth in the state tourney.
Gopher, Oliverson and Vielle were joined on the all-tournament first team by 5-8 senior Morgan Mason of third-place Froid/Medicine Lake and 5-7 senior Piper Johnson of Winnett/Grass Range.
The second-team selections were 6-1 junior Mackenzie Dethman of Froid/Medicine Lake, 5-6 senior Raeanne Bendon of Twin Bridges, 6-2 freshman Sydney Dethman of Froid/Medicine Lake, 5-11 junior Brynn Jolma of Winnett/Grass Range and 5-9 junior Sydney Browning of Winnett/Grass Range. The Dethmans are sisters.
The championship was Box Elder’s second in program history with the other being won in 1998. Winnett/Grass Range was seeking its first state girls’ basketball title. The Bears completed a 25-2 season. Their only losses were to Fort Benton in district tourney play and Winnett/Grass Range in the Northern C Divisional tournament championship game.
The third-place finish brought Froid/Medicine Lake the first state girls’ basketball trophy in its program history.
Following are the selections for the 2018 state Class C high school girls’ basketball all-tournament as voted on by the courtside officials and statisticians and members of the media covering the tournament, held over the weekend in the Butte Civic Center:
First Team — Lillian Gopher, Box Elder, 5-10, junior (MVP); Kailee Oliverson, Twin Bridges, 6-3 senior; Cecilia Vielle, Box Elder, 6-3, senior; Morgan Mason, Froid/Medicine Lake, 5-8, senior; Piper Johnson, Winnett/Grass Range, 5-7 senior.
Second Team — Mackenzie Dethman, Froid/Medicine Lake, 6-1, junior; Raeanne Bendon, Twin Bridges, 5-6, senior; Sydney Dethman, Froid/Medicine Lake, 6-2, freshman; Brynn Jolma, Winnett/Grass Range, 5-11, junior; Sydney Browning, Winnett/Grass Range, 5-9, junior.
Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically) — Nikayla Anderson, Box Elder; Mariah Dietrich, Harlowton; Josie Hokanson, Ennis; Whitney McKitrick, Ennis; Joelnell Momberg, Box Elder; Brenna Osksa, Plentywood; Tawnee Robertson, Froid/Medicine Lake; Taylor Stahl, Winnett/Grass Range; Hallie Wangerin, Plentywood; Liv Wangerin, Plentywood; Madison Wasson, Harlowton; Maddie Wolf Chief, Box Elder.
*Note — Voting for the all-tournament team was conducted by buttesports.com
Next year’s state Class C high school girls’ basketball tournament is scheduled for February 28-March 2 at the Four Seasons Arena on the ExpoPark grounds in Great Falls.