Getting to the Class A State tournament was a challenge for the Butte Central girls’ basketball team.
After winning the consolation game at the Southwestern A Divisional tournament in Hamilton on Saturday, the Maroons returned to the Dale Berry Court to beat Dillon in a challenge game to keep their season alive.
That challenge, on paper at least, pales in comparison to the daunting task the Maroons face Thursday when they make another trip to Hamilton for the state tournament.
The Maroons (16-5) take on Columbia Falls (19-1), the champion of the Northwestern A. The Wildkats were ranked No. 1in The Associated Press Power Poll throughout the season.
Columbia Falls, which placed third at last year’s state tournament, head to Hamilton after beating Frenchtown 53-43 in the Northwestern A title game on Saturday.
Senior Ciera Finberg averages a team-leading 13.5 points for the Wildkats, who are coached by Cary Finberg. Finberg is also the head coach of the boys’ team.
Ciera Finberg scored a team-leading 12 points in Saturday’s championship game.
Fellow senior Winter Kemppainen adds 10.7 point per game for the Wildkats, who also get 9.1 points from sophomore Peyton Kehr and 8.1 from classmate Cydney Finberg.
Freshman Kloie Thatcher scored 22 points Monday night to lead BC to a 55-48 over Dillon, the No. 1 seed heading into the divisional tournament. Sophomore’s Mollie Peoples and Emil St. John followed with 13 and 10.
St. John led the Maroons in the regular season with 12.1 points per game. Peoples added 10.3. Juniors Kate Ossello, Sierra Pica and Ryan Trudnowski join Peoples and St. John in the starting lineup. Thatcher is first off the bench.
Shawnee Hjelt, Megan Michelotti and Taylor Wahl have also been key contributors for the Maroons, who are going to state for the fifth time in six years.
The winner of the BC-Columbia Falls game will play Billings Central (10-11) or Lewistown (7-13) in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal. The Rams and Eagles open the tournament at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Southwestern A champ Hamilton (15-6) will play Frenchtown (13-7) at 6:30 Thursday, while defending champion Havre (16-4) battles Hardin (12-9) at 8.