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Bozeman girls end Sentinel’s title run in AA hoops

No four-peat will happen for the Missoula Sentinel girls as they were toppled by Bozeman, 50-46, Friday during the semifinals of the state Class AA high school girls’ basketball game in the Butte Civic Center.
The Spartans had entered the tournament as the three-time defending state champion. The best they can do now is third place, which will mean they have to prevail in the Saturnday morning loser-out round and then win the consolation final. Otherwise, they’ll finish the tourney with no hardware.
Bozeman will meet Helena Capital, a 52-34 victor over Billings West, for the championship in a game slated to tip off Saturday at 8 p.m.
Friday’s loser-out games saw Billings Senior best Missoula Big Sky 52-34 and Kalispell Glacier defeat C.M. Russell of Great Falls 51-42.
Saturday’s games will have two loser-out contests at 10:30 a.m. — Billings Senior (14-9) against Billings West (12-11) at the Civic Center, and Missoula Sentinel (19-4) against Kalispell Glacier (18-5) in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High School.
The loser-out winners will meet at 5 p.m. in the Civic Center for third place, prior to the 8 p.m. championship game.
Capsule reports from Friday’s games follow:

Bozeman 50, Missoula Sentinel 46

The Bozeman Hawks soared early and then weathered off repeated challenges from Missoujla Sentinel to earn the semifinal-round win and end the Spartans’ chance at a fourth straight state Class AA high school girls’ basketball crown.
Jacey Delaney broke loose for 11 first-half points as Bozeman built a 12-point lead in the second quarter. Sentinel, however, began a rally late in the half and cut the margin to 25-20 by halftime.
The Spartans scored on a fast-break basket by freshman Kylie Frohlich for the first points of the second half and the Bozeman lead was down to three points. However, Sentinel couldn’t pull even or go ahead. Bailey O’Leary scored seven straight points on a long jumper from just inside the 3-point arc, on a pullup shot from the key and then on a basket-and-one play as the Hawks regained a 10-point comand, 32-22.
It was a 37-28 game going into the fourth quarter where the Spartans pulled to within three points twice and two points late, but still couldn’t force the Hawks to crumble. Two free throws by Shannon Worster and a layup by Frohlich off a pass from fellow freshman Jordyn Schweyen sliced the Bozeman lead to 45-42 with 1 minute, 31 seconds left on the clock.
Melanie Johnson then netted two foul shots for Bozeman. Worster answered with a basket on a drive to the hoop and the score was 47-44, Bozeman’s favor, with just under a minute left in the game.
Sentinel had chances. Averie Collins missed two free throws for the Hawks, but teammate Emerald Toth grabbed the rebound. Johnson, the 5-3 sophomore point guard, wound up with the ball and was fouled. She made one free throw with 23 seconds to go.
Frohlich scored on the Sentinel end on a short jumper to make it a 48-46 margin with only 13 ticks left.
Sentinel’s Haley Rogers immediately fouled Johnson, who sank one of two shots, giving the Hawks a three-point edge with 12 sconds on the clock. She missed her second shot and Sentinel players looked as if they had Bozeman screened off from the rebound, but Johnson scooted between them and grabbed the bouncing loose ball. So, Schweyen was forced to foul her.
With 10 seconds left, Johnson missed her first shot on the double-bonus, but made her second and Bozeman owned a crucial four-point edge, 60-46.
A long cast by Worster just before the buzzer was well off mark and Toth grabbed the rebound as time emptied off the clock.
Delaney led Bozeman with 13 points while Johnson had 12 and O’Leary 11. The 6-0 Collins had 11 rebounds. Johnson and Collins each dished three assists. Bozeman will take a 17-5 record into the championship game.
Worster finished with 13 points to pace Sentinel. The prized freshmen were next with Schweyen scoring 12 and Frohlich 11. Frohlich also had 10 rebounds and Schweyen pulled down nine. Sentinel is 19-4 this season and still has a chance to play for third place, should it get past Kalispell Glacier in Saturday’s loser-out round.

Helena Capital 52, Billings West 34

Capital stormed into the championship game with the decisive victory over Billings West in the semifinal game that capped Friday’s schedule at the state Class AA high school girls’ basketball tournament in the Butte Civic Center.
The Bruins took a 12-11 edge on a rebound putback by 6-foot-2 sophomore Mary Bryggman and never were behind again. Bryggman followed her basket with a free throw almost a minute later and Capital led 13-12 at the first quarter break.
Tjaden Pallister then scored from the inside 26 seconds into the second frame and McKenzie Johston tacked on a 3-point basket to continue the Capital surge. The Bruins continued to spree, outscoring West 12-4 over the next six minutes for a commanding 30-15 advantage with 1 minute, 47 seconds to go in the first half.
Savanna Bignell hit a 3-pointer and a coast-to-coast layup in the run that was capped by 6-2 freshman Taylor Sullivan downing six straight points on two free throws and two layups, the last off a pass from Raynna Pilgeram.
At halftime, Capital was in control by a 33-19 margin.
The Bruins maintained command through the second half and used their height advantage and quickness to deny th Golden Bears any comeback tries. They even pushed the lead to 20 points, 52-32, on a Sullivan free throw with only a minute left.
West lost star guard MorningRose Tobey at the 5:22 mark of the fourth quarter to what looked to be a knee injury. It occurred during a drive and scramble in a packed key and Tobey hit the floor with a loud thump. Trainers carried her off and were still attending to her when the game ended.
Bryggman and Bignell scored 13 points each to lead Capital. Bignell also hustled for 10 rebounds. Johnston claimed six steals. She and Sullivan tallied eight points apiece.
The Bruins will go into the championship game against Bozeman with a 19-2 record.
The Golden Bears were led by Haylea Elkin with 17 points and Jessi Zuroff with seven rebounds. Tobey, a Nevada signee, left the game twice with injury and was held to six points. West is 12-11 overall and will tangle with rival Billings Senior in a Saturday morning loser-out game that will advance the winner to the afternoon consolation final for third place.

Billings Senior 52, Missoula Big Sky 34

Billings Senior placed three players in double figures in dispatching Big Sky during loser-out play.
Alli Kieckbusch led the Broncs with 14 points, Jordyn Wagner scored 11 and Taylor Mims hit for 10.
Senior led all the way, taking leads of 16-9 by the end of the first quarter and 29-17 at halftime.
Big Sky was paced by Madisyn Shaide with 14 points. The loss ended the Eagles’ season at 14-9. Senior will take a 14-9 record into Saturday loser-out play while still seeking a third-place finish.

Kalispell Glacier 51, Great Falls Russell 42
Hailee Bennett poured in 28 points as Glacier stayed alive in the tourney and ousted C.M. Russell of Great Falls.
The Wolfpack led after grabbing an 18-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and held a 31-21 halftime advantage.
Brielle Bumgarner was second scorer for Glacier with nine points. Rebound leaders were Bennett and Tessa Krueger with five apiece.
The Glacier teamwork and height had to mesh to counter a 28-point effort by CMR’s Taylor Edwards. Briana Easton of the Rustlers nabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
The win put the Wolfpack’s record at 18-5 going into Saturday loser-out play with hopes of third place still alive. Russell bowed out of the tournament with a 9-13 record.



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