Senior Dulci Skunkcap lines up a free throw during opening round action at the State A Tournament against Hardin.

The Browning Lady Indians had a tough time in their opening game at the Montana State A basketball tournament on Thursday, March 12, being outscored by Hardin in all but one quarter and losing the game, 64-38. But they came back on Friday, March 13, in loser-out action against Corvallis with a big first half, outscoring the Blue Devils by 15 points and winning the game, 48-41.

However, that was the final game for Browning as four cases of Coronavirus were discovered that day and the MHSA ended the tournament in mid-stride.

“We knew we had to make sure to do everything right and cut down on our mistakes,” Coach Ray Augare said of the Hardin game. “They’re good inside and outside so we had to work both ends, but we didn’t get it done. The second half was lots better – we were more aggressive on the basket – but it was too big a hole after the first half.”

Dulci Skunkcap led with 15 points, followed by Tatum Running Crane with seven, Walker Running Crane and Abby Bullcalf four, Arena Matt and Mecca Bullchild three, and Tamika Guardipee with two points. Kelsey Mad Plume and Tatum Running Crane led with six rebounds apiece, but Browning posted 23 turnovers contrasted with only 12 for Hardin.

The next day saw the Lady Indians in loser-out action against Corvallis. “We did what we needed to do,” Coach Augare said. “Our pressure was good, we got points from steals and the big girls were doing a good job.”

Tatum Running Crane led with 11 points, followed by Tamika Guardipee with 10, Dulci Skunkcap nine, Chalissa Kipp six, Payton Crossguns five, Abby Bullcalf four and Mecca Bullchild with three points. Tamika Guardipee led with five rebounds, and the Lady Indians had only 12 turnovers contrasted with 22 for Corvallis.

Coach Augare said the team then watched the semifinal game to see who they would face the next morning, then left to eat at a local restaurant. There, the girls discovered the first Coronavirus cases were found in Montana. By the time they returned to the Billings Metra, the tournament had been canceled.

“They were more surprised than anything else,” Coach Augare said of his team’s reaction. “They were like, ‘Oh wow!’”

With the season having closed, Browning fans will say farewell to five graduating seniors - Dulci Skunkcap, Tamika Guardipee, Kelsey Mad Plume, Payton Crossguns and Hailey Racine – leaving nine returning veterans for next year.

“I’m pretty pleased with what we did,” the coach said. “We proved we are one of the better teams in the state.”

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