Sports

Back-to-Back Champs

Bigfork comes from behind, wins second consecutive Class B boys basketball championship

Champions don’t rattle easily.

Down double-digits multiple times in the first half and trailing by nine early in the third quarter, the Bigfork Vikings ripped off a 17-2 run and won their second consecutive Class B state championship, hanging on in the final minutes to beat Missoula Loyola 47-43 Friday night at the Belgrade Special Events Center.

The Vikings (22-2) have won three of the last six state titles but seemed doomed in the early going on Friday, falling behind 15-4 before the first quarter was even over, and trailing nearly the entire first half. Bigfork made a modest run before halftime behind Clayton Reichenbach, who scored 12 first-half points and helped the Vikings draw within 25-19 at the break.

The Rams (20-5), seeking the first title in program history, stretched the lead back to nine with the first three points of the second half, but Logan Gilliard kick-started the Vikings offense with a put-back and 3-point play, and minutes later two more Gilliard buckets tied the game at 30. Defense pushed Bigfork into the lead, as a pair of turnovers led to transition layups for Luke Schmit and the Vikings went into the fourth quarter with a 36-30 advantage.

Both teams battled in a low-scoring the final period, but Loyola never could pull even, and Colton Reichenbach provided the final margin with a pair of free throws with 24 seconds remaining.

Clayton Reichenbach finished with 14 points and Gilliard added 13 to pace the Vikings. Jack Lincoln led all scorers with 16 points for Loyola.

The Vikings and Rams met four times this season, with Bigfork taking three of those matchups, including in the title games of both the Western B divisional tournament and the state tourney. Bigfork ended the season on a 10-game winning streak, with the last loss coming at the hands of the Rams on Jan. 26.

With the win, Bigfork becomes the first Flathead Valley boys team to win back-to-back state titles since Columbia Falls did it in Class A in 2005 and 2006. The Vikings went 24-0 last season.

Pick up a copy of next week’s Flathead Beacon for more coverage of Bigfork’s historic season.

Loyola       15     10       5       13     —    43
Bigfork       6       13       17     11     —    47

LOYOLA — Jack Lincoln 16, Cooper Waters 10, Jacob Hollenback 7, Charles Burns 6, Liam Haffey 2, Ryan Tirrell 2.
BIGFORK — Clayton Reichenbach 14, Logan Gilliard 13, Colton Reichenbach 6, Anders Epperly 6, Luke Schmit 6, Randy Stultz 2.

If you enjoy stories like this one, please consider joining the Flathead Beacon Editor’s Club. For as little as $5 per month, Editor’s Club members support independent local journalism and earn a pipeline to Beacon journalists. Members also gain access to www.beaconeditorsclub.com, where they will find exclusive content like deep dives into our biggest stories and a behind-the-scenes look at our newsroom.