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Butte County wins back-to-back Rocky Mountain Conference championships

Butte’s Tausha Cummins shoots in the 1A Division II District 5-6 tournament title game against Sho-Ban at Firth High School on Thursday. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By JASON ENES | Post Register

FIRTH — There is an old saying in sports, “big time players, make big time plays in big time games.”

For Butte County senior Tausha Cummins, Thursday’s Rocky Mountain Conference championship game against Sho-Ban was a big game.

In a game that looked at times more like a track meet than a basketball game, Cummins carried the load for the Pirates with a game-high 23 points in a 55-35 victory over the Chiefs. The win sends the defending Pirates back to next week’s 1A, DII state tournament.

Butte County’s Shay Lambson dribbles down the court 1A Division II District 5-6 title game against Sho-Ban at Firth High School on Thursday. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

“It’s been a long time coming for us, most of us have been playing together since the sixth grade,” Cummins said. “To do it undefeated last year was great, but this year the pressure is on us to do it again. It takes all 10 of us to get there. But it feels really good to get back.”

Cummins scored her first points in the low post on a short jumper early in the first quarter, as points would not stop coming for the senior.

In a stretch that started with a 3-pointer to end the first quarter and ended with a pair of free throws, Cummins scored 13 of the Pirates 15 points during the second. During that stretch Butte County led by as many as 17.

“Tausha has been our spark all season,” Pirates coach Carla Hansen said. “She got us big baskets all night and controlled the low post. We knew Sho-Ban would guard the perimeter and it gave us a chance to get the ball down low.”

But even with a 17-point deficit the Chiefs would not roll over for the defending state champs.

With the length of sisters — freshman Angela and junior Siona Astorga — the Chiefs clogged passing lanes and forced turnovers that led to easy baskets in the final minutes of the half.

“We knew they were going to jump into the passing lanes and try to force turnovers,” Cummins said. “We just had a stretch where we got sloppy and they took advantage.”

After halftime Sho-Ban continued to try and push the tempo, just as they had tried to all game long, but fatigue during the last 12 minutes took its toll on the Chiefs.

Butte County’s Sherawn Brownlee guards Sho-Ban’s Rylee Appenay in the 1A Division II District 5-6 girls title game at Firth High School on Thursday. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

“Things were a little hectic at times,” Hansen said. “But our girls have been running a lot I recent weeks to prepare for a game just like this. They did a great job and keeping composure and closing out the game.”

As the final buzzer sounded, Pirates senior Shay Lambson hugged her teammates as the team will head back to the state tournament looking to repeat as state champs.

“Our first goal was to win the district tournament and our second was to win state,” Hansen said. “These girls have worked so hard all year, they deserve to be where they are.”

Conlin Coburn added nine points for Butte County (20-3) who open up the state tournament on Thursday at Nampa High School against either Deary or the the No. 3 team from District 3.

Sho-Ban (17-6) was led by Siona Astorga’s 12 points. The Chiefs will take on Rockland in a winner-to-state game on Saturday at Firth High School.

Sho-Ban 9 11 8 7 — 35
Butte County 18 14 11 12 — 55
SHO-BAN (35) — Sacoyah Appenay 5, Angela Astorga 9, Reesha Pokibro 3, Siona Astorga 12, Nakai Appenay 6. FG: 12. FT: 7-15. 3-pointers: 4 (S. Appenay, Astorga, N. Appenay 2). Total fouls: 14. Fouled out: none.
BUTTE COUNTY (55) — Meg Buxton 6, Conlin Coburn 9, Tausha Cummins 23, Sherawn Brownlee 8, Shay Lambson 7. FG: 18. FT: 11-17. 3-pointers: 4 (Coburn, Cummins, Brownlee 2). Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: none.

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