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BUTTE — Standing in the hallway after Twin Bridges' girls Class C consolation final loss to Froid-Lake, Falcon head coach Josh Keller looked sad.

He was standing with one of his daughters a fair distance away from the rest of the team, whose family members were consoling and doling out hugs as they stepped out of the locker room. There were a lot of tears.

This was a Twin Bridges team that had come from 21 points down in the opening round of the tournament only to lose on a three-pointer to eventual champion Box Elder in overtime. They'd fought all the way back through the consolation bracket only to lose to the same team they'd beaten in the same game the year before.

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Twin Bridges coach Josh Keller calls a play during the Class C girls basketball third-place game against Froid-Lake Saturday at the Butte Civic Center.

It was heartbreaking for the team, and every bit of that was visible on Keller's face. More than that, however, it was the end of a brilliant era for the Falcons. Star guard RaeAnne Bendon, who put up an absurd stat line of 19 points, eight steals, seven rebounds, and four assists in the first-round, is gone.

So is Nevada commit Kailee Oliverson, who finished the tournament with 104 points, 40 rebounds, and 13 blocks over four games. Michaela Madden, a short guard with tremendous passing ability and ferocious defense, won't ever don the black and red again.

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Twin Bridges' Kailee Oliverson drives toward the basket while being guarded by Box Elder's Lillian Gopher on Thursday at the Butte Civic Center.

It is, to some degree, the end of an era.

"Losing Rae, losing Kailee, they're two of a kind," Keller said. "You don't get those opportunities very often. Having them both at the same time, that's something pretty special. Everybody around town loves those kids.

"They're great people, great basketball players. It really set a tone for future kids to see that."

In a town of 395, the chance to have a special season doesn't come around all the time, which makes what the Falcons did over the past few years all the more special.

Fifty-one wins. Just five losses. A third-place trophy in the 2017 tournament. A fourth-place finish this year. It's something the community won't ever forget.

Even as the players were huddled in friends and families' arms with red eyes, it didn't seem they forgot that. They'd set a level of expectations for future players and the returners coming back next year.

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Twin Bridges' Michaela Madden drives during the Class C girls basketball third-place game against Froid-Lake Saturday at the Butte Civic Center.

The chemistry was strong with the team. They genuinely enjoyed playing basketball, which was easily seen during their state tournament run.

It was obvious when they ran out to congratulate each other during timeouts. It was obvious when the managers were amped up on the bench. It was obvious when Keller was animatedly pacing up and down the sidelines.

It was obvious with every shot that fell and every dramatic moment during the tournament.

The disappointment will take some time to fade. The memories of the last few seasons, however, won't ever disappear.

"It was a great feeling to be here; it was something special," Keller said. "They're never going to forget it for the rest of their lives."

Jordan Hansen covers prep and Frontier Conference sports for the Montana Standard. Shoot him an email at or give him a shout on Twitter @jordyhansen.


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