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Eureka, Bigfork, T-Falls girls to battle in 7-B

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | December 8, 2021 10:17 PM

The District 7-B got a little bigger, and not just in terms of teams (Plains is up from Class C), but in terms of length.

We’re mainly looking at defending Western B Divisional champion Eureka.

“It’s by far the tallest team I’ve had,” said Ryan Holder, the Lions’ fifth-year head coach. “There are a lot of new girls, but a lot of good athletes. It’s going to take us a while to come together, just because of all the new faces, but I’m excited.”

First, the familiar ones: Jadyn Pluid, a 5-foot-8 guard; Reena Truman, 5-11 forward; Dylan Sharp, a 6-0 sophomore guard.

Add in Spanish exchange student Ixone Cateron (5-9; scored 18 points against Stillwater Christian last week), Remmi Stanger (5-10 junior) and Jimena Sanchez (6-0, so.) and the loss of two All-State picks from last year’s 15-7 team isn’t so daunting.

“We definitely reloaded,” Holder said. “We have two amazing seniors. Reena Truman worked so hard in the offseason on her shooting. Jadyn Pluid’s probably the strongest girl I’ve had come through the program.

“Those two seniors — we’ve won the district or conference tournament the last three years, and they were there for it. And we’re looking to send them out on a high note.”

Standing in the way are Bigfork and Thompson Falls, if not Mission.

Bigfork, which finished fourth at the Western B Divisional to just miss out on state, returns high-scoring Emma Berreth among three 2020-21 starters.

Scout Nadeau and Maddy Chappius are the others, and head coach Cortnee Gunlock has junior Ellie Jordt, senior Calle Martinz and sophomore Callie Gambala back as well. Gambala was a key reserve a year ago; that role could fall to talented freshmen Ava Davey and Braeden Gunlock.

“We’re definitely 8-9 players deep, so that’s exciting too,” Cortnee Gunlock, who is Braeden’s mom. “So that’s exciting. And we have speed. I’m looking forward to putting that to use and outrunning teams.

“We also have a much better-rounded team, offensively. I’d hope we don’t see a box-and-one (aimed at Berreth) all year.”

The Bluehawks of Thompson Falls, like the Eureka Lions, have new faces as well: A trio of transfers have been added to a cast that is led by Ellie Baxter, an All-State player as a sophomore.

Veteran coach Chadd Laws — it’s his third season with the girls but he spent 15 seasons as the Bluehawk boys’ coach — is looking for big things from returning starter Caity Alexander and junior Chesney Lowe, who figures to take over the point.

The transfers: Natalie Roberts, a reserve on last year’s State B champion Big Timber Sheepherders; Noxon transplant Avery Burgess; and Maliyah LeCoure of Stevensville.

“We’ve had a lot of nice families with young kids move in,” said Laws, who hopes this group blends into an up-tempo force. “One of the things I really am happy with is the support of our community. Our fans travel well. Good support base. And we’re excited to see what this group of kids can do together.”

Winning the district won’t be the end; the 7-B combines with the 5-team 6-B for the Western B Divisional, which will send two teams to the State B tournament March 10-12 at MSU.

Missoula Loyola and Anaconda made it to State out of the 6-B last season.

2021 Standings

Conf. Overall

Eureka* 7-1 15-7

Thompson Falls 7-1 14-4

Mission 4-4 10-9

Bigfork 3-5 10-11

Troy 0-8 0-15

x-Plains 2-4 5-9

*-Made 2021 State B Tournament.

x-Played in District 14-C in 2020-21.

Prediction

1Bigfork

  1. Thompson Falls

  2. Eureka

  3. Mission

  4. Plains

  5. Troy

Players to Watch

Caity Alexander, Thompson Falls; Ellie Baxter, Thompson Falls; Emma Berreth, Bigfork; Madison Chappius, Bigfork; Ixone Coteron, Eureka; Madyson Currie, Mission; Kimmy Curry, Plains; Ava Davey, Bigfork; Braeden Gunlock, Bigfork; Maliyah LeCoure, Thompson Falls; Chesney Lowe, Thompson Falls; Kelly Martens, Bigfork; Kooper Page, Mission; Jadyn Pluid, Eureka; Dylan Sharp, Eureka; Kaylah Standeford, Plains; Reena Truman, Eureka; Izzy Tunisian, Troy.

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