BELGRADE — The Townsend High girls basketball players Tavia Rooney and Peyton Vogl both didn't want their nearly undefeated season to conclude at the Class 5B District tournament on Saturday.
The final game of the season is precisely what they could have faced as they trailed the Whitehall by two points at the half in the consolation championship game at Belgrade High School's Event Center.
That is when Bulldogs player Tavia Rooney and her team challenged themselves to perform better in the second half.
They responded with a 46-38 victory over the Trojans, ended Whitehall's season, and advanced to the Divisional tournament Saturday night back at the Belgrade Events Center.
The Three Forks girls basketball team captured another Class B District title with a 51-42 victory over Big Timber. Carroll College signee Kyle Olson led the team with 31 points and seven rebounds.
Big Timber's Darby Johnston scored eight points, Sydney Prather scored eight points and Hailee Brandon finished with eight rebounds in the loss. Both teams qualified for the Divisional Tournament.
"We just had that sense of urgency that this could potentially be our last game together, and none of us were ready to end our season," Townsend's Rooney said. "I think we needed that push to get our team to the next level. We were the team to beat (coming into the tournament), and we got it done today."
Rooney credited her team's competitive nature as they adjusted and responded to the Trojans with a 16-9 third-period run that enabled them to gain some separation.
"We are all so competitive, we have strong hearts to this game, and we wanted it so bad," Rooney said.
The night before, the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season by falling to Three Forks in the semifinals, a fact that Vogl knew was going to be difficult headed into District.
"Our District is tough, and all of the teams are great," Vogl said. "We just have to take one game at a time, do our research on them and use what we've been learning all year against these guys."
Rooney poured in a game-high 22 points, and Vogl added 13 points, combining for 35 points and nearly outscoring the Trojans by themselves. As a team.
"I haven't seen a tournament top to bottom on any given night (every game) that is not all dogfights," Whitehall coach Kelly Nieskens said. "It prepares you for the postseason."
Nieskens also paid a compliment to Rooney's ability to play.
"They have a bunch of girls that can take care of the basketball, and finish for them," Nieskens said. "Tavia is just fun to watch, except when you are playing against her."
The Trojans missed their leading scorer Ashley Noyes to a season-ending ACL injury. She averaged 15 points per contest towards the second half of the season. They tried to make the adjustments, according to Nieskens.
"It was a fun season, the girls worked hard and did everything that we asked," Nieskens said.
The main difference was the height, according to Neiskens.
"They had two taller girls, and they pounded the ball down low and caught us out of position," Neiskens said. "They rebound, guard and handle the ball well, and it takes a lot of pressure. They did a good job tonight and played well."
The Bulldogs, who missed one of their top players in Charlotte Watson to injury, will now have two weeks to adjust headed into Divisionals as the lowest seed of the tournament.
"(Our team) is taking Watson's injury as a challenge," Bulldogs coach Norm Darlinton said. "We are not going to use it as an excuse. We are using it as a challenge to overcome."
Townsend defeated Jefferson 47-37 in an elimination game Saturday morning. Rooney scored 18 points and added nine rebounds, nearly getting a double-double.
Denika Dolan finished with 10 points. The Panthers were led by Dakota Edminsten, who scored nine points, and Mykala Edminsten finished with seven rebounds.