W.F. West was held scoreless in the opening quarter — it happens.
As it turned out, Black Hills needed that early edge in a 36-33 victory in the Class 2A Southwest District IV girls basketball championship game Marcus Pavilion at Saint Martin’s University’s.
Predictably, in a game between two rivals headed to the state tournament, it got tight, and tense, and a little chippy.
That is to say, it felt like a state tournament game, said senior Emma Duff, who led top-ranked Black Hills to a district championship for the second straight year.
“It was definitely not the prettiest of games,” said Duff, after she was held to six points.
It was a physical game, and the officials were not whistle-happy.
“Our team does a good job of not getting in our heads,” Duff said. “It was a really good learning experience for everybody.”
It wasn’t as if the Wolves’ first-quarter lead, at 9-0, was insurmountable, and the Bearcats were patient throughout their points-free first period.
In the second quarter, W.F. West outscored Black Hills 16-7, getting two 3-pointers from Julia Johnson, to pull into a tie at 16-16 late in the first half.
Black Hills junior Lindsay Nurmi rolled in a runner in the lane before sophomore Maisy Williams’s fourth blocked shot of the half preserved an 18-16 halftime lead for the Wolves.
W.F. West wasted no time in the second half in earning its first lead of the game — Kiara Steen knocked in a 3-pointer to put the Bearcats up 19-18.
The lead bloomed to five points before Rachel LaBelle, Nurmi and Megan River hit 3-pointers for Black Hills, and another LaBelle bomb earned the Wolves a 30-25 lead. A baseline move and layup by Bearcat Shasta Lofgren got it to 30-27 heading into a combative fourth quarter.
Duff got a putback and Williams drove for a layup to push the lead to 34-27, and that was just enough to hold off the Bearcats.
Lofgren’s high-arching three-point try that could have tied the game, bounded off the rim and into the hands of the Wolves’ Kayley Moloney.
“It was a defensive battle,” Black Hills coach Tanya Greenfield said. “When that happens, it’s a lot of energy expended, and mistakes happen.”
Williams, who battled with Bearcats senior post Lexi Strasser throughout, led Black Hills with 10 points. Nurmi scored nine points and LaBelle scored six.
Johnson and Kiara Steen had eight points apiece for W.F. West, and Strasser and Lofgren had six each for the Bearcats (19-4).
Black Hills (21-1), the state’s No. 1-seeded team overall, will play in the regional round against the No. 8 seed next week.
Black Hills 36, W.F. West 33
WFW: Johnson 8, Lofgren 6, Brumfield 5, Steen 8, Strasser 6.
BH: Williams 10, LaBelle 6, Patti 2, River 3, Duff 6, Nurmi 9.