HAMILTON -- For Seeley-Swan to be successful, coach Shawn Holmes figured, the Blackhawks needed to get some easy shots.

Well, nothing was easy Friday afternoon.

Arlee's size advantage bricked the Blackhawks out of the key and difficult shot after difficult shot rattled out as the Scarlets set up an all-District 14-C Western Divisional girls' basketball final Saturday with a 42-29 victory.

Plains topped Manhattan Christian, 49-40, in the day's other semifinal. The 14-C champion Trotters are 3-0 against Arlee this season, though the Scarlets could steal the most important one Saturday at 5:30 p.m. back at Hamilton High School's gym.

Neither team ran away to meet Plains, Arlee leading by a point after the first and third quarters while the game was knotted 15-all at the break. But Seeley's frigid shooting began to catch up to it by the fourth quarter.

"You've got to make baskets. We only had (five) girls score, just two points off the bench," said Holmes, whose tallest girl looked up at six different Arlee players.

"That's been our story all year. We're physical, because we have to be, and we overplay because we're quick. ... But when we're not getting shots against a team like that where we can't get inside, we need those outside shots."

The Blackhawks (21-2), champions of District 13-C, shot 23 percent overall and just 18.8 percent in the second half. Exiled to the outside arc of the offensive zone, Seeley made only one 3-pointer in 16 attempts.

The Hawks got the better of the Scarlets (19-4) in their only other meeting this season, a Tip-Off Tournament game in Frenchtown the first weekend of December. Seeley-Swan's speed canceled out its slight stature in that one as the Blackhawks jumped out to a 13-2 lead.

That wouldn't be happening Friday, Arlee coach Bill Stockton planned.

"Their strength is definitely their guards," the coach said, "and I think Alyssia Vanderburg got hot early when they could get the ball into her. (Seeley-Swan) did a really good job collapsing, but her being able to be strong with the ball really helped."

Vanderburg, a 6-foot post player and one of six Arlee girls at 5-11 or taller, finished with a game-high 14 points. She had 10 in the second half.

Fellow post Carly Hergett added nine points and guard Becca Whitesell scored six with three assists. It was Whitesell and the backcourt that was the engine against Seeley's speedy defense, Stockton said.

"(Seeley) kept sagging off the wings, trying to take away the post-entry passes," he said. "We needed our guards to try and dribble attack to open 'em up."

The Blackhawks forced 19 turnovers, 12 on them on steals. Paige Holmes had five steals by herself to go with eight points -- second best on the team behind Alex Bohlman's 10. But the Hawks time and again failed to convert on the extra possessions.

Seeley attempted 23 more field goals, 52 to 29, but had the same number of makes (12).

The Hawks were still within a basket, 28-26, with 4 minutes to play, but Arlee's offensive rebounds and free throws ended Seeley's threat.

The Blackhawks' season isn't over, though. They'll face Ennis in an elimination game Saturday at 9 a.m. over at the Hamilton Middle School. The victor there will play for third place later in the day with the bronze winner still having at shot at making the State C bracket in two weeks in Great Falls.

If the third-place team has not played the divisional runner-up -- i.e. the Arlee-Plains loser -- those two will meet in a state challenge game. In Seeley's case, the Hawks will need to rally for two wins Saturday and hope Arlee can finally knock off Plains.

Don't worry Blackhawks, the Scarlets are hoping for the same thing.

"We'll play with everything we've got," Whitesell said. "I feel that we really need to work on our defense against them because they've got some shooters and posts that do really well, too."

A win Saturday secures Arlee's first state trip since finishing second in 1980.


Plains 49, Manhattan Christian 40

Deadlocked in a close semifinal, Plains' Jessica Thompson sunk a basket with just under 2 minutes to play that gave her team a 39-38 lead. The Trotters never trailed again.

Plains fended off Manhattan Christian with a 17-6 edge in the fourth quarter, advancing to the divisional title game Saturday in its first season at Class C. The Trotters, champions of District 14-C, also moved their season record to 20-2 with the victory.

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Jessica Thompson finished with eight points and Leah Thompson led the team with 14 and 12 rebounds. Carley Vonheeder chipped in 12 more.

Plains was aided by a huge advantage at the free-throw line. The victors made 15 of 26 attempts compared to just 3 of 5 for Manhattan Christian, which committed 23 fouls to the Trotters' nine. Three Eagles fouled out.

Megan Kamps of the Eagles led all players with 18 points and five assists, but her team was outrebounded 41-29.


Twin Bridges 52, White Sulphur Springs 33

After a first-quarter draw, Twin Bridges pulled ahead with a 17-7 second-quarter advantage and eliminated White Sulphur Springs.

Twin Bridges put three girls in double figures scoring, led by Jessica George's 13 points, which outpaced White Sulphur's Mesa Williams who scored 17.


Ennis 35, Drummond 34

Drummond's impressive third quarter put it in control, but Ennis caught the Trojans in an elimination game.

Drummond, which outscored Ennis 16-11 in the third to tie the game 29-29, fell behind in the fourth and couldn't manage a game-tying or winning shot in the final 45 seconds.

Audrie Parke piled up a game-high 17 points for Drummond, which ended its season at 14-9. Ennis was led by Caitlin Klatt's 14.