By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Despite winning just one game all season, Blue Sky/J-I head coach Brian Campbell knew his team was capable of doing good things. And something good finally happened to the Rams on Wednesday night in loser-out action in the District 9C boys basketball tournament.
Blue Sky/J-I took an early lead on Turner and never let their foot off the gas pedal en route to a 70-51 win in front a boisterous crowd at the Havre High gymnasium.
The Rams got off to a quick start, scoring 10 unanswered points in the first quarter and staking themselves to a 20-12 lead. The run was sparked by a 3-pointer from Alex Chivilicek and Campbell said that it was the Eagles aggressive play early that carried them to the win.
"I think the big thing was that the kids played like they could win this game," Campbell said. "I have thought all season that we were capable of playing like this but tonight they came out and were aggressive and took control of the game early instead of letting the game come to them."
For the second straight night Turner's normally potent offense could not find its rhythm. The Tornadoes continued to struggle shooting the basketball in the second quarter and they also found themselves struggling to guard Ram senior center Craig Miller.
Miller started controlling the paint early in the second quarter, and Turner never found an answer for him as the Rams led 33-24 at intermission.
In the second half, Turner finally woke up offensively as they exploded for 21 points in the third quarter behind the stellar inside play of Dalton Cornell. But Miller was able to keep pace with Cornell and by quarter's end the Tornadoes still trailed 51-45 thanks in large part to Josh Beaudry's two free throws after time had expired.
The six-point margin would eventually be as close as the Rams would allow Turner to get. Although the two team's stayed close for the first four minutes of the final stanza, Turner could never find an answer for Miller. He scored 10 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter and the Rams shut Turner down defensively in the final four minutes of the game to cruise to only their second win of the season, and keep that season alive for at least another night.
"It feels great to get this win," Campbell said. "Especially because Turner is a very good offensive team. But our whole team played great defensively tonight and I think we took Turner out of what they wanted to offensively against us."
Aside from Miller's 37 points, the Rams also got 11 points from Brad Peterson and eight from Beaudry.
"Craig had a great game tonight," Campbell said. "He has worked hard at finishing on the inside and he did tonight. He didn't miss many shots."
"I also have to say that Josh Beaudry did a great job," Campbell added. "He is just a freshman but he stepped up and made some huge free throws for us in critical situations."
The Tornadoes were paced by Cornell with 21 points. Colin Jones and Emory Hedegaard added eight points a piece. Turner's season is now over with a 2-18 record.
Meanwhile, the Rams (2-18) will await the loser of the Rocky Boy/Box Elder semifinal game. Blue Sky/J-I will be back in action on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Blue Sky/J-I 70, Turner 51
Turner 12 12 21 14 - 51
Blue Sky/J-I 20 13 18 19 - 71
Turner - Dalton Cornell 21, Colin Jones 8, Emory Hedegaard 8, Logan Fouts 6, Chad Jones 7.
Blue Sky/J-I - Josh Beaudry 8, Alex Chivilicek 6, Alex Frey 1, Craig Miller 37, Brad Peterson 11, Conrad Wendland 4, Dane Kantorowicz 3.
Total fouls - Turner 20, Blue Sky/J-I 21. Fouled out - Colin Jones, Chivilicek, Frey. 3-point goals - Beaudry, Chivilicek 2, Fouts.