BOLD coach Brian Kingery thought he had the perfect defense to slow Mountain Iron-Buhl. It didn't account for the Rangers' ability to get out and run or shoot three-pointers.
Top-ranked Mountain Iron-Buhl's fast-breaking style helped the program win its first state title with a 52-21 victory over the Warriors in the Class 1A girls basketball championship game Saturday at Williams Arena.
"Obviously, that didn't go quite as we wanted," Kingery said.
BOLD had difficulties on offense, too. Its 21-point total is the lowest in history for a championship game in the state tournament. Breck had held the record of 22 from its 35-22 loss to Rochester Lourdes in Class 2A in 2003.
"They just outplayed us," Kingery said.
Kingery's triangle-and-two hybrid defense, with two players face-guarding Rangers standouts Jordan Zubich and Sage Ganyo and a three-player zone protecting the paint, was exploited by the Rangers' fast break, by their outside shooters and by role players cutting to the basket.
"We know in our zone there are openings, holes," Kingery said. "They did a good job of exposing it."
All five starters for the Rangers (30-3) scored in the opening eight minutes, when they built a 17-7 lead. They widened their cushion to 17 points, 32-15, at halftime.
"Our role players have stepped up all year," Mountain Iron-Buhl coach Jeff Buffetta said. "Everybody likes to say we are a one- or two-player team, and we are more than that."
Zubich scored 10 of her game-high 15 points by halftime, and Hali Savela added eight first-half points and Anna Neyens six. Savela and Neyens each made two three-pointers in the first half.
Savela and Gabby Lira wound up with 10 points each in the game, and Lira also grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Rangers continued to attack the same way in the second half, scoring the first nine points. BOLD scored only six points after halftime.
"We wanted to control the first five minutes of the second half and keep it going," Buffetta said. "They executed perfectly."
It all added up to Mountain Iron-Buhl's first fully successful trip to the state tournament after many chances. The Rangers were at their 12th state tournament in the past 13 years, having finished as the runner-up twice.
"We broke the Mountain Iron-Buhl curse," Zubich said.
Sophomore guard Lainey Braulick led the fifth-ranked Warriors (26-6) with eight points. The Warriors shot only 17% (8-for-46), helping the Rangers get out in transition.
"We went out with a bang," said Ganyo, who had nine points and six assists. "This is the best feeling in the world."