BUTTE — TyLee Manuel took up residence under the hoop and made herself comfortably at home there for the evening.
The Billings West junior forward monopolized the post en route to scoring a game-high 23 points as the No. 5 Golden Bears held off the Butte High Bulldogs, 42-30 on Friday evening at the Butte Civic Center in an Eastern AA girls game.
West (7-2) pulled out the win a day after falling to No. 4 Billings Senior, 49-34. Butte (4-3) will host the Broncs — and Class AA's top scoring girl Kola Bad Bear — on Saturday.
"We did a good job defensively, especially coming off a tough one last night," West coach Charlie Johnson said. "Back-to-backs are always tough. Holding a good Butte team in the low 30's was a great job."
Manuel's performance got the job done for West offensively. On the other side of the ball, the Golden Bears' zone defense forced nine turnovers in the first half and limited the Bulldogs to eight first half points as they were given few opportunities to attack the paint.
"Early on we dictated the tempo and got Butte out of their game a little bit," Johnson said. "I know they like to get up the floor and shoot some 3's and I thought our length and our zone kind of bothered them."
Manuel did most of her damage in the second half, scoring 14 points after the break. She finished the game with eight field goals, most of them off offensive rebounds, and connected on 7-of-8 free throws.
West led 28-20 heading into the fourth quarter before reeling off a 13-5 run to pull away. Ambreya Windy Boy then hit a triple less than four minutes remaining to give the Bears an insurmountable 40-24 lead.
The Bulldogs were led by 11 points from Aspen Lovshin and nine from Ally Cleverly. West limited Butte's top scorer Brittney Tierney — averaging 13 points a game — to seven points.
The Bulldogs' defense answered West's containment of Tierney by bottling up the Bears' leading scorer Shayla Montague for six points. Montague had been averaging 12.4 point per game.
"I thought defensively that was a great effort," Butte coach Maury Cook said. "The offensive rebounds just killed us, especially early on. Just too many second-chance points. In a game you lose by 12 points, that's a huge difference."
The loss was Butte's first game since overcoming a 13-point halftime deficit to topple Butte Central in the crosstown rivalry game on Jan. 18.
Butte center Kira Mortensen — playing on an injured foot — led the Bulldogs' short-range defense. She collected four steals and, for the most part, held her own in the post.
Though the outcome wasn't favorable, Butte still managed to hold a team that had been averaging nearly 60 points a game to 42. The Bulldogs simply struggled to find an answer to West's defensive riddle.
"We've just got to be able to attack that zone a little bit better," Cook said.