What's the best way to celebrate an undefeated run through the conference ranks?
If you're the Melbourne Lady Bearkatz, the state's number five team in Class 2A hoops, you celebrate a 12-0 record in the regular conference season by winning yet another district tournament title.
Picking up momentum late in the third period, the Lady Katz (24-7) broke open a tight game to blow past the Midland Lady Mustangs 69-52 in the finals of the 2-2A District Tournament Feb. 20 at Bill McCurley Gymnasium in Imboden.
The game was hotly contested until late in the third period when Kenzi Gillihan did what Kenzi Gillihan does -- hit huge shots.
Midland (21-11) was up 48-43 when Gillihan drilled back-to-back 3-balls in the last minute of the third to give Melbourne a 49-48 lead after three.
Not yet finished, Gillihan opened the final frame with yet another triple.
She blasted six treys in the game, en route to an 18-point effort.
Gillihan's long bombs seemed to sap the lady Mustangs of what little energy they had left and Midland could only manage four points, two coming from the free throw line, in the last period of play.
Maggie Jo Cooper made sure Midland had no chance of closing the gap by ending the game with seven straight free throws for the Lady Bearkatz. Cooper led all scorers with a game-high 26 points.
Melbourne led 14-10 after the first period and 32-30 at intermission.
Kaylee Ables finished with eight points for the Lady Katz, while Karli Gillihan had seven.
Sara Beth Adams and Amanda Treat logged four points each, with Olevia Wetzel posting two points.
Farrah Turner led Midland with 20 points, while Kerstie Bumpous added 14.
Melbourne took on the Riverside Lady Rebels in the opening round of the regional tournament Feb. 24 at Midland.
In the district semi-finals Feb. 18, the Lady Bearkatz outlasted Cotter 69-62 behind a big-time 37-point effort from Cooper.