Rocky Boy reaches third straight 9C title game after beating North Star in a wild buzzer beater Thursday night
Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
With a trip to the District 9C girls championship game on the line, the Rocky Boy Morning Stars and North Star Knights waged a furious battle that came down to the final seconds Thursday night at the HHS gymnasium, with Rocky Boy coming out on top in a thrilling finish. In the fourth quarter of the see-saw battle, Rocky Boy and North Star were tied at 43-43 with just 4:53 remaining in regulation. The Knights grabbed the lead on a put back off an offensive rebound by Natasha Dyrland to go up 45-43, only to see Tori Belcourt respond with a clutch 3-pointer to give Rocky Boy a slim 46-45 edge. Trailing by a point and without the ball with just 26 seconds to go, Dyrland made a miraculous play, stealing the inbounds pass and taking the ball coast-to-coast for the go ahead layup, making the score 47-46. Dyrland’s theft and score looked like it might send the Knights into the championship game. “Natasha is an All-State player,” North Star head coach Brian Campbell said. “And she made the kind of plays All-State players make. I thought she made the play that was going to win us the game.” After a timeout, Rocky Boy took the ball out of bounds with just six seconds remaining. And with the game and quite possibly the season hanging in the balance, Tori Belcourt got the ball and scored with an amazing driving lay-up at the buzzer, giving Rocky Boy a memorable 48-47 come-frombehind victory. “I just got the ball and looked to score,” Tori Belcourt said. “I was about to shoot a 3-pointer, but I saw an opening in the defense, so I just took it to the basket.” Tori Belcourt scored a team-high 14 points in the win for Rocky Boy, with five of her points coming in the final minute. Loni Belcourt added nine points in the game and Erin Broncho contributed with eight points as Rocky Boy advanced to the 9C title game for the third straight season. “North Star played us tough and beat us the first two times we played them and the last one was in overtime,” Rocky Boy head coach Mike Sangrey said. “So we knew that it was going to be a tough game. I thought that if they could beat us three times, then they were just better than we were, because it is hard to beat a good team three times.” North Star got a spectacular effort from Dyrland in the loss, as she scored 23 points and tore down nine rebounds in a valiant effort. Jourdan Han and Justine Beaudry each pitched in with 10 points for the Knights. “This district just has three really good girls teams,” Campbell said. “And its too bad that all three of us can’t move on to divisionals. “Right now we are kind of behind the eight-ball as far as divisionals are concerned,” he added. “But we are just going to move on and try to come back and finish in third place. Then we will just have to sit back and see what happens.” Rocky Boy jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter after a trey by Frances Eagleman and a basket by Broncho. After falling behind 17-8 with 7:41 left in the second quarter, the Knights got back into the game with an 8-0 run capped off by a pair of Dryland free throws, making it 17-16 with 3:37 left in the first half. The two teams traded back-and-forth baskets before Dryland nailed two field goals to give the Knights a slim 26-25 halftime lead. The Morning Stars regained the lead momentarily in the third quarter, and eventually built a 38-32 lead. But North Star once again closed the gap, pulling to within a single point after an old fashioned three-point play by Courtney Wendland, setting the stage for an unforgettable finale that sent a packed a house into a frenzy. The loss will send North Star to the consolation bracket where the Knights will take the floor tonight at 6:30 against Box Elder. Meanwhile, Rocky Boy advances to the championship game where the Morning Stars will square off against Big Sandy on Saturday night at 6:30.