Natalie Walhof

Manhattan Christian's Natalie Walhof drives past Twin Bridges' Allie Dale Friday night in the Memorial Event Center.

CHURCHILL – With the defense focused on limiting the touches of Eliana Kuperus and Kiersten Van Kirk in the paint, Manhattan Christian shifted its attack the perimeter Friday night. Taylor DeVries and Ava Bellach happily took advantage.

The Eagles connected on seven 3’s, led by four from DeVries and two from Bellach, en route to routing Twin Bridges 61-23 in the semifinals of the District 12C Tournament. The duo combined for 25 points as Christian advanced to the championship game for a fourth consecutive year.

Ava Bellach

Manhattan Christian's Ava Bellach shoots a 3-pointer Friday night.

“It’ll be a good accomplishment to finish the deal tomorrow night,” Eagles coach Jeff Bellach said. “The girls are hungry, they want the district championship, we didn’t get it last year, got upset. We were able to kind of get revenge on that in divisionals, but we wan to go into divisionals with the one seed and be ready to play next week.”

Last year Christian lost to West Yellowstone, but won a challenge game to advance to the Western C Divisional. That won’t be necessary this year as the top four teams advance to divisional.

The Eagles (18-0) will host Ennis in the championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Mustangs defeated Shields Valley 49-41 in the other semifinal.

“Ennis coming in tomorrow, they’ll be ready to go,” coach Bellach said. “They’re the only team that’s got within single digits of us. We beat them by nine over there after a slow start.”

While Twin Bridges did its best to keep the ball out of the hands of Kuperus and Van Kirk in the post, DeVries buried a pair of 3’s in the first quarter as the Eagles took a 16-8 lead. Ava Bellach added two more in the second as Christian took a 29-9 lead into halftime.

Grace Aamot

Manhattan Christian's Grace Aamot, right, shoots the ball over Twin Bridges' Ayla Janzen after driving the lane Friday night.

The Eagles broke the game open in the third quarter, which included 3’s by Natalie Walhof and DeVries, and stretched the lead to 33.

While Van Kirk and Kuperus were limited to just 16 combined points, the duo did account for 22 of the team’s 52 rebounds. Van Kirk finished with a double-double after tallying 10 points and 10 boards.

“They fought through that after early on kind of having some tough shooting. I think we made it hard on ourselves a little bit,” said coach Bellach. “But then they kind of settled down and Kiersten settled in second half and got some good buckets.”

Christian advanced to the semifinals with a quarterfinal rout of White Sulphur Springs Thursday. Led by a game-high 18 points and five assists from DeVries, the Eagles cruised to a 69-24 victory.

“Taylor’s shooting it well, so that’s good to see. She’s had two great nights of shooting. Hit nine threes, so we want that to continue because if her and Ava and Grace (Aamot) can start knocking down those on the outside then teams can’t key on those two (Kuperus and Van Kirk).”

Ava Bellach and Kuperus reached double figures with 11 and 15 points, respectively, while Van Kirk had 10.

Manhattan Christian 69, White Sulphur Springs 24

White Sulphur           6    5    3   10  -  24

Christian                   21  15  15  18  -  69

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS (2-11) - Maddy Plachy 0 0-0 0, Ericka Larson 0 0-0 0, Brooke Thorpe 1 0-0 2, Jessa Rasmussen 0 0-0 0, Kendra Manger 2 0-0 4, Larissa Girton 0 0-0 0, Vickie Massee 0 0-0 0, Kenzie Hereim 3 1-2 9, Callie Menard 1 0-0 3, Natalie Fisher 2 2-4 6. Totals: 9 3-6 24.

MANHATTAN CHRISTIAN (17-0) - Anna Keith 0 0-0 0, Taylor DeVries 6 1-2 18, Hope Kenney 1 0-0 2, Alexis DeVries 1 0-0 2, Eliana Kuperus 6 3-4 15, Kiersten Van Kirk 4 2-2 10, Katelyn Van Kirk 1 0-0 2, Ava Bellach 5 0-1 11, Grace Aamot 1 0-0 3, Natalie Walhof 1 2-2 5, Jaydn VanDyken 0 1-3 1. Totals: 26 9-14 69.

3-point goals: WSS 3 (Hereim 2, Menard), MC 8 (T. DeVries 5, Bellach, Aamot, Walhof).

Manhattan Chrisitan 61, Twin Bridges 23

Twin Bridges                8    1  10  4  -  23

Christian                     16  13  23  9  -  61

TWIN BRIDGES (7-5) - Bailey Stockett 0 0-0 0, Ellie Meed 0 0-0 0, Lexie Stockett 2 0-0 4, Deliah Puckett 0 0-0 0, Emma Konen 0 0-0 0, Ayla Janzen 0 0-2 0, Allie Dale 4 0-0 8, Callie Kaiser 4 0-0 8, Kyle Pancost 0 1-4 1, Hadley Johnson 1 0-0 2, Cenna Berezay 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 1-6 23.

MANHATTAN CHRISTIAN (18-0) - Anna Keith 0 0-0 0, Taylor DeVries 5 0-0 14, Hope Kenney 0 1-2 1, Alexis DeVries 0 0-1 0, Eliana Kuperus 3 0-4 6, Kiersten Van Kirk 4 2-2 10, Katelyn Van Kirk 4 0-2 8, Ava Bellach 2 0-0 6, Grace Aamot 4 3-3 11, Natalie Walhof 2 0-0 5, Jadyn VanDyken 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 6-14 61.

3-point goals: TB 0, MC 7 (T. DeVries 4, Bellach 2, Walhof).