All streaks come to an end. Nothing was going to deny Sentinel senior D.J. Reinhardt and her Spartans a state title Saturday night at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, least of all Bozeman's spotless 22-0 record entering tonight's championship.
"Walking into this gym I think everyone in Bozeman thought it was going to be a give away," said Sentinel Head Coach Karen Deden after the game. "And even when you read the paper you kind of felt the same way. My kids believed in themselves all year long and I told them in the pregame we have something that?s hard to defend: You guys can shoot, you can transition and you can attack the basket."
It turns out the hardest thing to defend was number 33 wearing the white and gold; Reinhardt was a scoring machine. The future Montana Lady Griz player registered 11 of her jaw-dropping 38 points in overtime to lead Sentinel to the 66-60 victory over the Hawks.
"I'm just so happy to be state champions, its all I've ever wanted," said Reinhardt. "I knew we had to step up and give it our all and that's what we did. I knew we had to play our best."
The individual scoring performance was just one facet of an all-around instant classic game that featured 13 ties and 12 lead changes.
The Spartans took a three-point lead in the final moments of regulation on a lay-in by Liz Harper. But Hawks senior Shanae Gilham, also a Lady Griz signee, answered right back with an NBA-range three pointer to send the contest into overtime at 53-53.
Reinhardt admits that things were pretty tense following that clutch shot from Gilham. "I was a little scared but I just knew we had to work that much harder just to get that chipper."
Gilham then opened up extra time with a four-point play to but Bozeman on top. Sentinel answered right back with a Reinhardt triple and Bozeman didn't score again until the final 7 seconds of play.
"I could not have scripted a better finish," said Deden. "For D.J. to go out on a night like this? I know its been hard for her. She lost her mom last year and this game was really for Kathy Jo Reinhardt and I know that?s what D.J. was thinking about during the game."
Reinhardt made 10 of 16 shots from the floor. She nailed all four attempts from beyond the arc and went 14 for 14 from the free throw line. The performance was the second best scoring display in state championship history.
The senior guard will be hard-pressed to create a basketball memory in her life that can top this feeling. "I couldn?t be happier," she said. "I love my fans, I love the family, I love my team... its just all so much right now, its so great."
On the other end of the spectrum, an amazing season for Bozeman has come to a close. 22 wins, but a loss in the final and biggest contest of the season.
"They?re an amazing team but tonight we just outscored them and I thought my team played awesome," said Deden. "You have to play your A-game to beat them and you have to execute every single possession and I thought our kids did that."
Reinhardt added, "Pretty much our game plan was upset of the century. I mean we wanted this so bad and so I think the only thing going through our minds was state championship."
Gilham finished with a team-high 19 points for the Hawks.
Spartan sophomore post Olivia Roberts finished with 16 points and five rebounds in the contest and her defense was hugely instrumental in limiting the size advantage down low for Bozeman.
The victory gives the Lady Spartans their first state title since 1993.