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Lady Panthers Roar

Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale Second At Class C State Tournament

The 2015 Class C Girls State Basketball Tournament is in the books. Eight teams from the four corners of this very large state converged at the Adams Center, Dahlberg Arena on the campus of the University of Montana under the 'M' for a thre- day tournament to see who would take home the heavy hardware. The favorite was the Belt Lady Huskies because they had won the Class C trophy the last three years and folks thought a four-peat was in the cards.

Most folks, that is, except the girls from Saco, Whitewater and Hinsdale: The Lady Panthers came into the tourney at 21-3 while Belt was 20-4. The players and fans had to wait til the 8 p.m. game for this matchup, while in the meantime Circle lost to Broadview/Lavina in a close game 43-39, Gardiner beat Cascade 44-39 and Twin Bridges beat Park City 53-48.

From the opening tipoff the Lady Panthers told the Lady Huskies, "We're here to play. Can you keep up?"

Belt won the tipoff but came up empty and Kourtney Simonson grabbed the rebound for Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale and took it to the barn for the first score of the game. Tatum Moore followed that one with a threebie from about 22 feet. Keira Simonson scored in the first quarter as well and the score after eight minutes was SWH 9 and Belt 6.

Belt scored just four 3's in the first half and trailed the Lady Panthers 23-12 at the midway mark. Belt out scored the Lady Panthers in the third and fourth quarters but not by enough to come out with the win as SWH sent the Lady Huskies to the recycle bin 56-50.

The Lady Panthers shot a season's best 19 of 22 from the charity stripe and 45% from the field.

Tatum Moore led the team with 20 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, while Keira added 15 points and 6 rebounds. Kourtney had 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Scheffelmear tallied 7 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks and 3 steals for a very nice game. Jada Sudbrack scored 4 and Kayla Howard added 2 for the Lady Panthers.

In the 8 o'clock game on Friday, the Lady Panthers faced the Twin Bridges Lady Falcons, the No. 2 seed from the Western Division.

Again, the Lady Panthers put the bum's rush on the Lady Falcons early and jumped out to a 14-7 first act lead. Their lead increased to 30-15 following a 16 point quarter by SWH. The No. 2 seed from the Eastern Division let the Lady Falcons back into the game with an 11-11 tie in the third quarter and Twin Bridges put some real pressure on SWH in the final minutes of the fourth out scoring the Lady Panthers 16-13 but it was too little too late for Twin Bridges as the Lady Panthers sent yet another team to the recycle bin, 54-45.

This was a classic "foul fest" with 42 fouls being called resulting in 62 free throws of which 36 were made for points. SWH hit 63% of theirs while TB hit 53%. The Lady Panthers led the entire game and enjoyed a 19 point advantage with a minute left in the third stanza.

Larimie had a banner game, scoring 17 points and fighting for 19 rebounds. She added 3 blocks and 3 steals for an awesome game. Tatum Moore added 16 points and 4 steals to her resume'. Kourtney Simonson had a very nice double/double, scoring a dozen and rebounding a dozen. And Kayla Howard got her name in the books with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 5 steals. Kayleigh came off the bench to score 2 points and 2 rebounds. Jada Sudbrack got 2 rebounds in her 2 minutes of fame, as did Bailey Funk playing for 14 minutes. Bailey also had 4 steals and 2 assists.

The late-night Saturday game. This is the game all high school basketball players dream of. The championship is on the line, and the team that wants it most will take home the heavy hardware and bragging rights for 365 days.

Those in the know knew this would be a good matchup between Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale's Larimie Scheffelmear and Hannah Dean of Gardiner (soon to be a Carroll College Lady Saint.) The Lady Panthers knew they would have to cage Bruin three point shooter Tess Thomas as well.

This was one of the hardest fought games of the tourney with only 11 fouls called against Gardiner and 18 against SWH. The Lady Bruins hit 21 of 29 from the charity line (Dean went a perfect 12-12) while the Lady Panthers hit just 7 of 11.

The score was tied at 11 each at the end of the first quarter but then the wheels fell off the Lady Panther's wagon as they let Gardiner put a 12-0 run on them to close out the first half, Gardiner 27 and SWH 17.

The Lady Panthers clawed and scratched their way back, outscoring the Lady Bruins 14-13 in the third and 17-15 in the fourth but they had dug themselves too large of a hole to dig out and the Lady Bruins out lasted the Lady Panthers 55-48.

Tatum Moore shared game high points with Hannah Dean at 22. Tatum also had 2 assists and 2 steals. Again, Larimie Scheffelmear came to play, scoring her second double/double of the tourney with 12 points and fighting Dean for 12 rebounds. She added 2 blocks and 3 steals. Keira Simonson added 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Kourtney Simonson scored 6 pernts, hauled in 8 big rebounds, had 2 assists and a steal. Kayla Howard scored 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 steals.

In their three games, Gardiner scored a total of 157 points. In their three games, SWH scored 157 points.

This was Gardiner's first state championship, while Saco/Whitewater last won it in 2011.

And thus ended the girls 2015 State Basketball Championship and as Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale Head Coach Amber Erickson told me after the game, "Hey, second place isn't all that bad! We made it here and we played well."

There are over 90 class C teams in the Big Sky, each one wishing they could have been here.

That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.


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