Taylor Salonen of Kalispell Glacier sank two free throws with 8 seconds left and then blocked a 3-point attempt by Billings Senior’s Jordyn Wagner to secure a 45-42 victory for the Wolfpack in the consolation final Saturday of the state Class AA high school girls’ basketball in the Butte Civic Center.
Glacier claimed the third-place trophy with the victory. The Wolfpack took their last lead, 41-39, on an inside basket by Tessa Krueger. Katie Wiley then stole a Billings Senior pass and wheeled and drove to the basket for an easy layup and a 43-39 Glacier lead.
The Broncs came back with a 3-point basket by Allie Kieckbusch to cut the difference to 43-42 with 37 seconds on the clock.
Wagner stole the ball from Glacier and drove across the midcourt stripe before Salonen stole it back on the perimeter. She was fouled by Kortney McNeil on the play and then made her clinching foul shots.
Wagner had two long-range attempts during the final ticks, but was blocked on the first. A Billings Senior player corraled the loose ball and passed back to Wagner, who tried again for a tying trey, but it was wide to the right and caromed off the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
It was a close game throughout with Senior owning a 24-20 lead at halftime after being ahead 11-10 through one frame. The teams were knotted at 32-all going into the last quarter.
Glacier finished at 20-5 for the season and was led in the consolation final by Salonen, a 5-foot-11 junior and the daughter of former University of Montana All-American Shannon (Cate) Salonen, now a UM Lady Griz assistant coach. Salonen scored 14 points and Brielle Bumgarner tallied 10.
Taylor Mims scored 18 points and took down eight rebounds for the Broncs. Kieckbusch had 10 points. Billings Senior completed a 14-11 campaign.
Earlier, Billings Senior and Glacier reached the consolation final with loser-out wins Saturday morning — the Broncs ousting rival Billings West 49-40 and the Wolfpack nipping Missoula Sentinel 49-48. Sentinel entered the tournament as the three-time defending champion, then lost to Bozeman in the Friday semifinals.
Taylor Mims had 13 points and nine rebounds in the Senior win over West. Jordyn Wagner scored 12 points, Alli Kieckbusch tallied 10, and Naomi Bad Bear pulled down 13 rebounds. West finished up 12-12 for the season and was led in its last game by Nevada signee MorningRose Tobey with 16 points and Jessi Kuroff with 11 rebounds.
Hailee Bennett dropped in 17 points, Tessa Krueger 13 and Katie Wiley 12 in Glacier’s narrow victory over Sentinel. The Spartans received 17 points from Shannon Worster and 10 from Kylie Frohlich, and finished their campaign at 19-5.