Western A Divisional: Bigfork Girls Roll

The Bigfork Valkyries continued their dominance in Class A basketball with a Divisional title and top seed heading into state tournament

By Gavin Derkatch for 406mtsports.com
Braeden Gunlock of the Bigfork Valkyries takes a shot against the Troy Lady Trojans defense in Bigfork on Feb. 2, 2023. Bigfork won 98-18. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

BUTTE – Eight teams punched their tickets to the Class A state tournament this weekend between the boys and girls Western A Divisional at the Butte Civic Center.

And the tournament was capped off with a pair of championship games on Saturday night, as the Bigfork girls and Hamilton boys were crowned Western A champions.

Bigfork 41, Frenchtown 29

The Valkyries’ transition into Class A has been a smooth one, with only one blemish on their record to date and now a Western A title.

On Saturday night, they had the chance to avenge that Dec. 8 overtime loss to Frenchtown, and they took advantage.

Bigfork’s first couple of weeks in its new classification provided a challenge, as it had to take on Frenchtown, Dillon and Billings Central.

It was an early test, but they realized they are more than worthy of competing in Class A.

“The two tip-off tournaments we played in the beginning of the year, we played three of the top teams. Going two of three, we knew we could compete at this level,” Bigfork head coach Cortnee Gunlock said.

“We knew the things we had to continue to improve on, and we’ve done that. I think they proved that tonight, and it’s really special.”

With Saturday’s win, the Valkyries became Western A champions and improved to 20-1 overall, eliminating any sliver of doubt about belonging.

After building a three-point halftime lead, Bigfork took control in the third quarter – outscoring Frenchtown 14-3 – to coast to a win.

Bigfork junior Braeden Gunlock led the way offensively, leading all scorers with 17 points in the win. Junior Ava Davey added 11 points.

While it wasn’t the prettiest offensive performance, the Valkyries took care of business on the defensive end – forcing 17 turnovers – to secure the victory and the West’s No. 1 seed.

For the Broncs, senior Sadie Smith led with 12 points and sophomore Mason Quinn added five points.

Both Bigfork and Frenchtown will be back in Butte for the state tournament and could potentially meet for the third time this season.