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'No time like the present' mentality driving No. 2 Twin Bridges girls as postseason looms

Posted at 12:04 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 14:04:54-05

TWIN BRIDGES — Back in December, the Twin Bridges girls basketball team found itself with a big opportunity — a shot at defending Class C championship Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale.

The Mavericks had blown past the Falcons in last season's state championship game, and now Twin Bridges had a chance to exact a small measure of redemption.

Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale ultimately won that non-conference game in Lewistown, 53-41. Not the result the two-time defending Western C champion Falcons were looking for but they could take away a few positives from their latest clash with the juggernaut Mavericks.

First, that 12-point loss was a much closer defeat than the 33-point rout that Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale dealt Twin Bridges in the championship last season. Second, the Falcons gave the undefeated Mavericks their toughest test so far this season.

Since that state championship rematch, the Mavericks and Falcons have held at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in each of the girls basketball power rankings this season.

"As much as that (loss to Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale) stings, it's definitely not a setback," said Twin Bridges head coach Hannah Konen shortly after the Falcons completed a regular-season sweep over Manhattan Christian on Jan. 29. "It's nothing but a learning opportunity."

The Falcons (15-1) took note and responded by winning the rest of their regular season games. They'll now head for the District 12C tournament at the Maroon Activities Center in Butte as the No. 1 seed and will look to emerge as district champions after falling to Manhattan Christian in the title game the past two seasons.

"We're working on the little things so that when we get to tournaments and face tougher teams, we'll be ready to go," said senior Kyle Pancost.

Pancost is one the Falcons six seniors — the others being 1000-point club member Allie Dale, Emma Konen, Ellie Meek, Abby Smith and Ayla Janzen — with the other four varsity players being sophomores. A quick glance at Twin Bridges' roster shows that the makeup of this squad will be much different next season.

For Hannah Konen, who has now both played in and coached in the State C championship with a Twin Bridges program that's still looking for its first state title, this upcoming playoff run — one that the Falcons hope will extend well into March — will be a mixed bag of enjoying these last games with a senior class that includes her sister, but also recognizing that this group has the chance to do something special this postseason.

Accomplishing that is going to require this team, which is on a 13-game win streak, to start playing its absolute best basketball of the season this week.

"You don't want to focus on this being the end of the senior's career but at the same time it's important to know that this is coming to an end," said Konen. "There's no time like the present to make sure that we're giving it everything that we've got.

"I'm just trying to make the most of every single day with these girls. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime kind of team."

The Falcons will receive a first-round bye at the 12C tournament and will face the winner of Manhattan Christian/Shields Valley in the district semifinals on Friday at 3 p.m.