By George Ferguson
The Turner Tornadoes have seen both ends off the spectrum in their first two games of the District 9C tournament. After shooting just 16 percent from the field in an opening round loss to Big Sandy on Tuesday night, the Tornadoes rebounded to shoot better than 50 percent from the field in a 70-49 win over the Rocky Boy Stars in loser-out action Wednesday night at the Havre High Gymnasium.
Turner head coach Tim Conlan admits that shooting was the key difference in his team's two nights of play.
"Tuesday night, we shot the ball terrible," Conlan said. "And tonight our fortunes changed and the shots started falling for us. We ended up playing pretty well tonight."
The Tornadoes came out firing in the first quarter as did the struggling Stars. After Jesse Colliflower opened the game with a three-pointer and Erick Watson hit a baseline jumper, Turner went on an 8-0 run sparked by three buckets from Robert Van Voast. Turner finished the quarter on outscoring Rocky Boy 11-2 to grab a 12-7 lead - a lead it would never relinquish.
In the second quarter, the Tornadoes were able to pull away from Rocky Boy thanks to 13 second-period turnovers and a five-minute scoring drought by the Stars, which enabled Turner to go on a 14-0 run and take a 28-13 lead into halftime.
"Rocky Boy is one of those teams that are scary to play because they have nothing to lose," Conlan said. "They are young and they made some mistakes and that helped us build a pretty good lead in the first half."
Both teams picked up the scoring pace in a torrid third quarter. The teams traded baskets throughout the period, but Turner benefited from seven more Rocky Boy turnovers that led to an insurmountable 56-33 lead after three quarters. The Stars rallied to outscore Turner, 16-14, in the final period, but it was much too late.
Leading the way for Turner was Van Voast with a game-high 25 points. Evan Hauge added 13 points and Brandon Simons chipped in with 11. Rocky Boy ended up getting 17 from Colliflower and 10 from Erick Watson in the losing effort.
With the win, Turner advanced to the next loser-out game on Friday afternoon and will play the loser of the Box Elder-KG semifinal. Rocky Boy ended its season with a 1-19 overall record.
Conlan said that his team still believes it can make some noise in this district tournament.
"We still feel very confident about our chances this week," Conlan said. "We feel like we can play with anybody left in the tournament, but we will have to play well from here on out."