Box Elder wins State C title

Unbeaten and well-supported, the Box Elder Bears reign as the champions of Class C high school boys’ basketball.
Box Elder took the title Saturday night with a 74-54 victory over the MonDak Thunder of Westby (Mont.)/Grenora (N.D.) in the championship game of the Class C state tournament played at the Butte Civic Center.
The Bears’ uptempo offense and disciplined defense wore the legs out from under the Thunder and allowed Box Elder a getaway over the last half of the game. The shot creation of gifted 6-foot-1 senior Randall Gardipee sparked the rush that pushed for the triumph. Gardipee scored a game-high 28 points, including an effort of 10-for-14 from the field, and tallying 19 of his points in the second half.
The crown is the second in Box Elder history with the other having been won in 1990 when the Bears beat Lambert 80-73. This year’s title capped a 26-0 campaign.
Gardipee was one of four Bears to score in double figures during the title tilt. Clayton Morsette Jr. put in 13 points while Thomas Parisian and Lonnie Plain Bull Jr. notched 10 apiece. Morsette led in rebounds with eight.
Westby/Grenora, finishing a 23-5 season with the second-place finish, was led by Cooper Olson with 19 points, Walker Wilson with 15 and Thomas Field with 10. The Thunder were the runners-up last year, too — having lost 62-39 to Roy/Winifred in the 2013 state C championship game.
The Bears clung to a 30-29 edge at halftime after having trailed 18-14 through one quarter. They emerged from the locker room with fire in their fingers, however. Field had tied the score on a free throw and then Box Elder outscored the Thunder 18-8 the rest of the quarter to take command of the contest.
Gardipee scored nine points in the run.
Then, after a pair of Olson free throws cut the Bears’ lead to 48-40 at the beginning of the fourth period, the Bears responded with a 3-point barrage, two by Morsette and one by Gardipee, followed by a Parisian hook shot to break the game open.
The narrowest the Thunder could trim the difference to was 12 points, 63-51, after a 3-pointer by Olson, two free throws by Olson and a layin by Field on a pass from Olson that was a steal of Box Elder’s inbounds pass.
The flurry, however, exhausted W/G’s tank and Gardipee answered by making two free throws and canning a trey. The score then was 68-51 and substitutes from both sides finished the game.
The Box Elder team and supporters celebrated the victory afterward with Native American singing and dancing at one end of the court. Smiles beamed.

Box Elder 75, Westby-Grenora 54

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