Still a team in transition, Billings West girls run away from No. 3 Bozeman Gallatin

BILLINGS — It’d been nearly a month since the Billings West girls basketball team had played a competitive game, and the first five-plus minutes of Thursday night’s home game coming off the Christmas break against third-ranked Bozeman Gallatin seemed to bear that out.

Still searching for their first field goal, the Bears appeared headed for a long night, at least offensively. The Bears finally settled in, and with the help of some solid defense that helped get their transition game going, eventually pulled away from the previously unbeaten Raptors for a 65-43 win.

West scored 40 second-half points and turned a 25-25 halftime score into a final that titled heavily in the Bears’ favor.

“I would say, like a seven out of 10,” West junior Sydney Pierce replied when asked to rate her team’s game. “But there’s always room for improvement. There’s a big difference between this team and the team from the first week” of the season.

The Bears (2-1, 1-0 Eastern AA) might yet be another different team down line. Already they were adjusting to being without two-time all-state player and last year’s leading scorer Taylee Chirrick, whose family moved to Roberts just before the start of the season.

Once the Bears seemed to hit their sea legs, though, things seemed to go swimmingly.

“I think one thing we took advantage of a little bit in the break was switching up a couple things,” said West coach Charlie Johnson, noting his team’s previous game was on Dec. 10. “My assistant coaches did