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BILLINGS - The game itself wasn't pretty, but Kellie Cole's jumpers that won the State AA girls' basketball title for Bozeman were things of beauty.

Cole, shaking off a first-half wrist injury, hit back-to-back jumpers to give Bozeman the lead for good, and the Hawks went on to down Great Falls C.M. Russell 39-33 at MetraPark. It was their third state title in five seasons.

Bozeman needed a blocked shot and a flurry of offensive rebounds to put away the Rustlers, who were seeking their first title since 1986. After Cole sandwiched 15-footers around a drive by CMR's Haley Vining - putting the Hawks up 35-33 with 2:00 left - the Rustlers had several chances, but missed their last five shots.

That included a block by Taylor Parker of a Vining drive with 1:39 left. Vining also came up with a steal in the final minute, but missed a 15-footer to keep Bozeman's lead at 36-33.

The Hawks then went to the line and saw Cole and Alexa Dawkins miss free throws. But Dawkins rebounded both misses, and eventually Shanae Gilham hit two freebies with 24.5 seconds left. Those made it 38-33.

Cole, a Montana Lady Griz signee, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, though she hurt her left wrist at 3:35 of the second quarter. Shortly after, Rosie Nickelson hit a 3-pointer to put the Hawks up 23-10.

From there CMR fought back, especially Jordan Bagley, who had 12 points and five steals. CMR led 31-29 on a Katy Striepe basket with 6:23 left in the game. A turnover blunted the Rustlers' attempt to build on the lead, and Gilham tied it up with a short jumper at the 4:51 mark.

Two CMR misses set up Cole's heroics. Nickelson was just as big for the Hawks, hitting two 3-pointers on a night when nobody shot well. Nickelson had eight points.

CMR 9 7 11 6 - 33

Bozeman 10 15 4 10 - 39

GREAT FALLS RUSSELL - Katy Klick 0-3 1-4 1, Alison Sullivan 2-6 0-0 4, Kate Striepe 3-6 0-0 6, Jordan Bagley 5-9 2-5 12, Haley Vining 4-11 0-0 8, Alex Lowry 0-3 0-0 0, Diondra Denton 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 14-39 5-11 33.

BOZEMAN - Kellie Cole 4-10 1-3, Alexa Dawkins 1-5 0-1 2, Taylor Parker 2-4 1-2 5, Jenna Banks 1-1 1-2 4, Lindsay Manning 1-4 0-0 3, Shanae Gilham 2-11 3-4 7, Rosie Nickelson 3-3 0-0 8, Mikaela McLeod 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-38 6-12 39.

3-point goals - CMR 0-5 (Klick 0-1, Vining 0-4), Bozeman 5-14 (Nickelson 2-2, Banks 1-1, Manning 1-3, Cole 1-3, Gilham 0-4, Dawkins 0-1). Rebounds - CMR 28 (Sullivan 8), Bozeman 30 (Cole 7). Total fouls - CMR 15, Bozeman 13. Fouled out - Striepe. Assists - CMR 6 (Vining 2), Bozeman 8 (Gilham 4). Blocks - Bozeman 1 (Parker). Steals - CMR 8 (Bagley 5), Bozeman 4 (four with 1). Turnovers - CMR 11, Bozeman 12.

 

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