BUTTE — This time, there was no wondering about what could have been.
Four years after the covid pandemic derailed the 2020 State AA championship games and forced them to settle for a co-championship with Helena Capital, the Billings West girls left no doubt.
Layla Baumann scored a team-high 12 points — all on triples — and Brooklyn Pierce added 10 as the Golden Bears outlasted Kalispell Flathead 48-43 in the title game on Saturday night at the Butte Civic Center to lock up their first outright championship since 2011.
"Honestly it doesn't even feel real," said Baumann, who was a freshman on that 2020 squad that shared a championship with the Bruins. "I would say it's just a great way to end my senior year. And it was a great team win."
The Western AA champion Golden Bears led Flathead for much of the first half but couldn't create much separation and carried a 27-24 into halftime.
The Bravettes — who were led by a double-double from Kennedy Moore with 17 points and 11 rebounds — took the lead in the third quarter and led by as much as five. The Bears then rallied back in the fourth and a corner 3-pointer from Kourtney Grossman with two minutes remaining in the game put West up 43-42 and the Bears never relinquished the lead.
For West head coach Charlie Johnson, it comes down to his team playing unselfish basketball.
"You know, we're not gonna have a girl average 20 points per game," Johnson said. "We just don't have that. But we're gonna have a bunch average 11 or 10 or 8. Just unselfishness. They just bought into it from Day 1 and that's been our key to success.
"I'm just happy for the girls. Both teams played their tails off. Unfortunately someone had to lose this game. It was just a great battle."
Grossman had 9 points and 8 rebounds for West and Hallie Haber and Sydney Pierce each added 7. Avery Chouinard added 14 points for Flathead.